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Duty of Care: What Is It?

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Working in other countries and cultures can be rewarding, but it is not without its fair share of challenges. Different nations operate in different ways, especially when it comes to matters of legality. One specific concept to pay close attention to is Duty of Care.

 

What is Duty of Care?

Duty of Care is a legal precedent that sets the standard for how people should act towards others, and requires that a person’s actions and decisions use reasonable attention and caution. More simply, it is acting with the best interest of others in mind. If this standard is not met, then the actions could be deemed negligent and any resulting damages could be used in a lawsuit. In a business setting, duty of care is an organization’s obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees and to actively protect them from foreseeable injury. This extends to transferees to whom the organization is giving instructions or guidance regarding assignment or travel.

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How Does it Affect Business?

Diversifying a business by expanding internationally is no doubt a great way to grow. Especially today, it is relatively common for employees to be traveling or relocating abroad for work. This is an area where Duty of Care is particularly relevant. Duty of Care differs from country to country, so be cognizant of any relevant differences.

The concept of Duty of Care is easily translated into the employer/employee relationship. In this situation, it becomes more for risk mitigation for employees traveling or working abroad. Perhaps an employee is sent to another country and is involved in a car accident or becomes incredibly ill. Or perhaps a relocating employee and their family are stuck in a country after a political protest. These types of situations all pertain to Duty of Care.

 

How Should These Situations Be Dealt With?

Employers are expected to establish the necessary safety precautions in these types of situations. As an employer, make sure that there are acceptable safety regulations and protocols in place to guarantee that traveling employees are protected. As an employee, become familiar with a company’s ability to offer protection in the case of an illness, accident, or emergency.

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As part of their Duty of Care responsibilities, companies should be able to help employees navigate complex and routine situations with cultural fluency and standard polices. Embrace cultural fluency as a preventative Duty of Care measure and prepare and educate employees on how to use their intercultural skills.  
 
 

Preventative Policy Tips

To remain in accordance with Duty of Care, consider the following:

  • Does the company have the ability and technology to know necessary information about the traveling employee’s location?
  • Are employees educated on security? Have they been adequately prepared on how to deal with potential risks in various locations? If international travel is involved, have they been trained on the culture of their assigned country?
  • Does the company have a solid communication strategy in place to keep in contact with employees?

It is paramount that everyone be on the same page when working across borders. Consider using Dwellworks Global Workforce Development, a cross-cultural training program tailored for cross-cultural employees. This program provides crucial insight into understanding cultural nuances and presents the best ways to work with global teams. Be sure to establish a policy and use it to educate employees who are traveling. Be ready to prepare the workforce with intercultural training to ensure they can avoid potentially dangerous situations. Setting up policies to assist with Duty of Care responsibilities will drastically assist a company in any international endeavor.

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Want to learn more? Check out some other Duty of Care blogs!

 

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