An Interview with Scott Lockman, Sr. Vice President at Assurance
TDS: First, let's discuss the term Duty of Care. You often hear it mentioned in the industry. What is Duty of Care?
Lockman: David, this is very important. Duty of Care is the legal obligation of an individual or company to provide the necessary reasonable safeguards, training, education etc. to individuals who may be performing acts or actions that could foreseeably harm themselves or others. While not a new concept, you're seeing Duty of Care referenced more and more in the industry. Organizations are beginning to understand there are legal and moral responsibilities that come with operating in high risk locations around the world. Some industry experts have linked this concept with Corporate Social Responsibility. I would submit that the two go hand-in-hand. Duty of Care should be an integral part of any company's policies and procedures around travel.
TDS: What types of things should organizations be thinking about in regards to employee safety while traveling?
Lockman: If organizations are asking their employees to travel for business purposes there are a number of things they should be considering. First, organizations should meet with employees who are traveling abroad and review a checklist, similar to the Duty of Care Checklist TDS has created. Employees should be given information on the closest healthcare facilities and, personally, I would recommend they check with their healthcare insurance to determine what is covered internationally. Reviewing a medical checklist with each employee to ensure they are healthy enough to travel is also a good idea.
As of late, employee concern has motivated companies to explore checks and balances within their organization with regard to travel. Employers have the unique challenge of ensuring their employees are prepared for travel while weighing legal and even potentially moral obligations.
TDS: Who is responsible for Duty of Care?
Lockman: The reality is that both entities – employee and organization – must take responsibility. This cannot be assigned to just one group because there are too many factors involved. Organizations can be held liable for their negligent failure to plan, and employees should understand that by accepting to travel internationally they need to do their homework too. Emerging markets may not have the legal framework in place to officially be held for Duty of Care, but cases can be brought back to the United States or other developed markets where the legal framework is well defined.
TDS: What are some valuable take-aways for organizations with regard to Duty of Care?
Lockman: Organizations must be prepared by following these steps:
- Research: Learn about the areas in which the employees are working or traveling. What is the primary language and currency? What customs might be different? Are there unsafe areas they should avoid?
- Advise: Once the research is completed, the organization should discuss any potential threats with their employees. These can be political in nature or even health-related.
- Document: Next, ensure the organization has documented both the country research and the internal processes for employee review. Provide employees with the materials, review them, and obtain signatures. Keep these documents with employee records.
- Train: Finally, schedule employee workshops that cover how to avoid and/or react to any regional issues that may occur. Roll playing and open discussion are encouraged.
TDS: How can Assurance help organizations protect themselves and assume less risk?
Lockman: Assurance can provide a wide variety of training materials, educational seminars, and checklists to ensure critical issues are covered. We also provide insurance products designed to assist the individual traveler and/or to provide health and monetary relief in the event of an incident.
Assurance works closely with clients to truly understand what the risk looks like from the company perspective, and then helps to design solutions that will be effective and easy to implement.
A partner to TDS, Assurance creates value by minimizing risk and maximizing health for over 6,000 businesses and individuals across the country through a suite of insurance solutions including business insurance, employee benefits, financial services, private insurance and surety. For more information, visit assuranceagency.com.