07 November 2017

Employers of overseas staff must do more to look after them in threat of terrorism and natural disasters

As counter-terrorism police issuing an advice video for travellers, Towergate Health & Protection is asking if employers can do more for both expat staff and business travellers to help them to feel better prepared and protected.

Recent high-profile terror attacks, extreme weather and natural disasters are understandably likely to make employees more concerned about their personal safety - a feeling which may be heightened when based overseas or travelling abroad. In a recent study by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABT) 59%* of managers said they were concerned about security and terrorism when their staff travel abroad.

Sarah Dennis, head of international said: “Situations can change rapidly and without warning due to a political situation or natural disaster, making previously safe areas dangerous. Employers need to be prepared, and having appropriate cover helps them to meet their duty of care wherever their staff are working.”

Travelling and living abroad for business is increasingly common and employees are travelling to less stable regions. Half of the managers responding to the ABTA survey* said that staff had experienced at least one issue in the last 12 months. Natural disasters and extreme weather were amongst the most common issues experienced.

Terrorist attacks and natural disasters can happen anywhere. A country may have political unrest, or a higher risk of natural disasters such as earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. Irrespective of the cause, situations can arise and escalate quickly with little or no warning. Employers have a responsibility, wherever they are sending staff, both to reassure and meet their legal duty of care.

What employers need to do

It should be a priority for companies to have policies and processes in place to offer protection and manage any incident that may arise for overseas workers. The list of preparations should include staying up to date with the foreign and commonwealth office travel advice, establishing evacuation policies and ensuring the relevant insurance cover is in place.

As companies grow and extend their operations around the globe they need to consider the provisions put in place both for staff who will be living and working abroad for extended periods and those travelling overseas for shorter trips. Making sure adequate protection is in place not only enables a company to fulfil its legal duty of care obligations, it is reassuring for staff to know they are protected.