Duty-of-Care the extra mile

BANGKOK, 30 July 2019: Amadeus warns travel companies to get up to speed on duty-of-care as travellers recognise they are now in the driving seat.

In her latest blog to business travel firms, Amadeus global head of corporation solutions, travel channels, Lydie Charpin, points to court rulings that have “established that employers have “the moral and legal responsibility and obligation for the health, safety, and security of their employees, especially those travelling on behalf of the employer.”

“If you work as a travel manager or in human resources for a major corporation, you’ve probably familiar with the term “duty-of-care,” she tells travel firms that use the Amadeus GDS explaining the history and some hard facts on duty-of-care court rulings.

“Given that laws change from one country to the next, how can multinational companies or employers manage their legal and moral duty-of care-obligations? The first step is understanding the risks involved.”

She quotes heavily from a Travel Leaders Group survey of US-based travel agency owners, managers, and frontline agent specialists. It suggests that the top circumstances where clients required assistance were airline emergencies, civil unrest in international countries, snowstorms, or terrorist incidents.

Another study by The International SOS Foundation listed the most significant threats in Europe leads off with Ash cloud, pickpockets, and travel-related infections and road accidents.

Road accidents are the biggest threat to travellers and demand a high level of duty-of-care by the tour company if the road trip goes wrong.

According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, nearly 1.25 million people die in road crashes each year and an additional 20 to 50 million are injured or disabled.

Pointing out that duty-of-care extends to road accidents, the comments are timely for the Cambodian travel firm that attempted to wriggle out of responsibility for a road accident last week. It resulted in three Chinese dead and another 10 seriously injured when their commuter van flipped on a remote road near Siem Reap.

The company blamed it on a third party hire a convenient way of deflecting any responsibility or care for accident victims or least confusing attempts to secure closure and compensation.

But in her blog, Charpin says risks may not be equal for all business travellers. A survey of US corporate travel buyers showed that nearly seven in 10 believe female business travellers face higher risk on the road than their male counterparts. Their main concerns included sexual harassment, assault and kidnapping, citing the importance of selecting hotels and type of lodging carefully.

Not all duty-of-care concerns involve life or death circumstances, she noted.

“Employers may also want to consider their travellers’ overall health and wellness. A frequent flyer’s access to exercise, a healthy diet, and a regular sleep schedule will not only impact their health but their business performance as well. Corporate travel policies that respect and encourage traveller well-being will also have a positive impact on employee retention rates.”

While duty-of-care is a topic for corporate travel circles, the law does not distinguish between a leisure or business traveller. The law applies across all travel segment boundaries, and travel agencies need to be aware that it is not exclusively a business travel requirement.

(Source: Amadeus Blog – Lydie Charpin, global head of corporation solutions, travel channels, Amadeus).