Remote Protection: Duty of Care for overseas staff

Posted On 07 Oct 2013
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Employers have a duty of care to their employees, which means they are responsible for the health and safety of their employees whilst they are at work, either in the UK, or overseas. Employees posted overseas may encounter varied and increased risks to their health, safety and security from man-made risks, political unrest, terrorist attacks, natural disasters and threats to their health. In return, employers are exposed to increased risks of liability. In 2011, International SOS” an international healthcare, medical assistance, and security services company” released statistics indicating that more than 3.5 million overseas visits are made by employees every year, with around 25 per cent of these trips being to high- or extreme-risk destinations. This highlights the necessity for employers to take their duty of care to employees seriously. For many businesses, duty of care is both a legal and an ethical consideration. There is an onus on businesses to take appropriate steps to ensure the health and safety of staff. Equally, companies want to ensure that their staff are able to carry out their duties freely and without compromise. For many businesses, staff are one of the biggest assets, and companies can ill afford to lose them, either due to an incident whilst working, or because the personnel do not feel adequately protected. The legal duty Case law has firmly established that employers must take reasonable steps to ensure the physical and psychological safety of its employees while at work. Employers are under a duty to provide a safe place and system of work, safe plant and equipment, and competent staff. Employers can be vicariously liable for the actions of its employees committed in the course of employment. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA 1974) creates general and specific legal duties on employers to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees at work, as far as is reasonably practicable. Employers will breach their duty of care towards employees if they fail to do everything expected of a reasonable employer in the circumstances to keep an employee safe. Employers can be held liable for injuries caused to employees working outside the UK. Aside from the damage to an employer’s reputation and finances, employers may be liable, on summary conviction, for damages up to

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.