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Originally published at Cornerstone Information Systems’ “In Your Corner” blog.

Duty of Care is the idea that Corporations are responsible for the security of their employees during travel and when engaged in activities that support the company’s interests. The European Union’s Duty of Care Act is the most prominent regulation in Europe to codify this requirement. The EU spells out how companies should behave regarding employee safety and security, but the United Kingdom took this a step further with the UK Manslaughter Act that allows companies to be held criminally liable for harm that come to their employees. The regulation applies to UK employees abroad, or the non-UK Company employees while they are in the UK to conduct business. These regulations jump-started the Duty of Care industry in Europe and North American Corporations are still playing catch-up.

Duty of Loyalty is the concept of employee compliance with their employers’ efforts on their behalf, while Duty of Care describes the set of behaviors, planning, and actions companies must take to safeguard their employees. When a company makes a car service available, or requires employees to meet minimum safety guidelines, Duty of Loyalty is the force that compels an employee to meet those standards. Companies that go out of their way to create a high quality of life during employee travel and are proactive about serving travelers on the road will generate much higher loyalty. Companies undermine their employees’ loyalty through cumbersome or overly-restrictive policies and should strive to strike a balance that rewards loyal behavior while not driving the employee to another company.

Personal security in the real world starts with your employees. It’s great to have Navy Seals and Special Forces consultants demonstrate the latest hand-to-hand combat techniques, and defensive driving in up-armored Suburbans with run-flat tires. But…security designed for the CEO does little to help the intrepid sales person walking through the commercial district in Buenos Aires or London with a Starbucks coffee in one hand and the latest smartphone in the other.

There are simple principals that, when followed diligently, can increase your employees’ safety hundreds of percent.

1. Pay attention to your surroundings. Make eye contact with people around you. Do not text, read email or walk down the sidewalk while participating in a conference call via a Bluetooth headset. You must appear alert.

2. Never read a map in public. Find a hotel lobby, retail store or restaurant to determine where you are and where you’re headed.

3. Do not wear jewelry or flashy watches. Men should avoid cufflinks. Your shoes, hairstyle, and clothing will already set you apart during international trips so reduce the other signs that mark you as an easy target.

4. Tell others where you are going and about your daily plans.

5. Before your trip, or as soon as you arrive, send a note to your corporate travel team to let them know which hotel you’re staying in (if you didn’t book it through your corporate booking tool).

6. If you walk, don’t walk alone, especially after dark. Leave a note to yourself at the front desk that contains information about where you are going or who you will meet. This will give investigators a head start if you don’t return.

7. Never leave a hotel with a metal room key. Leave it with the concierge or front desk to let them hold it for you while you’re out. Don’t let the staff give you a keycard sleeve with your room number printed on it to hold your keys.

8. Check in on foursquare periodically to give your friends & family location information (do not do this if you are at risk for a targeted crime).

9. Keep your passport, credit cards, and other ‘chipped’ items in a faraday cage (a special wallet or bag designed to remove their ‘electronic’ signature so they are invisible to card readers).

10. Know local customs and signs that will get you in trouble. Some well-known advice includes carrying a “mugging” wallet with at least $100 USD in Argentina and Brazil, but in China you should increase your cash to >$300 in case you need to pay for emergency medical care.

11. When you use cabs, always sit diagonally from the driver so you can see his eyes in the mirror. If he notices something behind you that doesn’t look right you’ll pick up on it immediately.

12. Never ride in a cab or car at night with the interior lights on, and always lock the doors.

13. For trips where you will use the same driver or in high-risk areas, you should insist that the driver leave ½ car length between you and the car in front of you at stoplights or stop-signs; on wider roads, the driver should stay in the outside or curbside lane, but never the middle (the driver should always have enough room to maneuver around other vehicles – in an emergency sidewalks and medians are fair game).

14. In high risk locations you should also insist your driver use a “box” maneuver instead of making turns in front of oncoming traffic. In countries with left-hand drive (US, Germany, France) when you want to turn left, the box method requires you to cross your intended road, then execute three right-hand turns around the next block. This will put you on course without exposing your side of the car to oncoming traffic while it increases the probability that you will identify anyone who is following you.

Steps for travel management teams:

1. Establish policies to protect travelers in high-risk locations or mission essential personnel anywhere. Distribute information about potential threats several days before travel.

2. Publish and disseminate information about after-hours service to support medical or travel emergencies and include phone numbers for international access. This could include a twitter account and hashtag travelers should use when they need help. Example (@YourCompany911, or #YourCompanytravelassist).

3. Publish your security team’s phone number and distribute it with every itinerary.

4. Develop an easy way for travelers to add passive segments (hotels booked outside your booking tool or agents). Use this as a KPI to measure Duty of Loyalty.

5. Every manager is responsible for employee safety, including trips between sites that don’t involve the travel management group. Travel Management and Corporate Security should work together to provide reports and business reviews that cover travel risk, employee health, on-duty accidents and ‘near’ misses to a steering committee that includes representation from HR and Legal and other operating divisions as necessary.

Call us if your program needs help to implement pre-trip approvals, reporting, notifications and agent and employee training.

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