24 Aug 2017

Business travellers today are undoubtedly aware of the need to be more alert and informed than ever before. Events such as natural disasters, virus outbreaks, and/or terrorist attacks are prevalent throughout much of the world, disrupting lives and impacting the health, safety and security of travelling employees.

Before being sent to a foreign country on business, your company is duty-bound to inform you of any official travel warnings which usually apply to long-term, high-risk occurrences such as civil war, or travel alerts which are reactions to short-term events such as riots or potentially disruptive elections.

Ensuring your well-being while travelling is more than your company’s moral duty, it’s a legal requirement. South African employers have a duty of care obligation to their employees entrenched in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), the scope of which extends to business travellers and expatriates working beyond the country’s borders.

Duty of care is therefore your company’s responsibility and should be written into its travel policy in the form of a dynamic, proactive and reactive travel risk management (TRM) programme.

However, it’s equally the business traveller’s responsibility to adhere to the company’s TRM programme, not take undue risks, maintain regular contact and alert the company to any unplanned itinerary changes.

Before embarking on a trip to foreign markets, it is your responsibility to know your company’s travel policy. If something happens that impacts your trip, from a massive natural disaster or terrorist incident to more benign incidents such as flight delays caused by an airport’s ground staff strike or heavy snowstorm, how are you alerted? Knowing the answers to important questions is an imperative when travelling on business. For example:

As any seasoned business traveller will tell you, never underestimate the wealth of knowledge you acquire while away on business. Share it with your travel manager. You are your company’s eyes and ears on-the ground. Using the mobile technology at your fingertips, alert your company to any incidents which may arise. The on-the-spot, factual alerts of business travellers and feedback after their return are often invaluable contributions to the updating of their company’s dynamic TRM programme.

The safety and security of employees, working locally or abroad, is a shared responsibility.