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Duty of Care Shifts Amidst Global Crises


What is Duty of Care?

The concept of Duty of Care refers to the obligation of employers to protect their employees from harm. This responsibility is particularly crucial during events such as the current economic, geopolitical and security crises we see, when risks and challenges are heightened. 

With the volatility of the risk environment currently, and the heightened expectations from employees, Duty of Care in the current workplace needs to encompass not only the protection of employee’s health and safety but also their security and wellbeing whether they are on a remote site, at the office, on business travel or working from home. 

Changes in the nature of risk

In times of crisis, the nature of risk is often heightened, which forces organisations to re-evaluate their Duty of Care policies. For instance, natural disasters such as the Turkey-Syria earthquake have led to increased risks and logistical challenges which prompted organisations to ensure that evacuation plans and safety protocols are in place to protect their people as well as their business operations. Similarly, economic crises often lead to an increase in mental health issues such as, anxiety and depression, which may propel organisations to provide additional support and resources to their employees.

Heightened expectations of employers and organisations

Crisis situations also heighten the expectations of employers and organisations to protect their employees. Employers are expected to provide a safe working environment for their employees that goes further than their safety at the office. Your organisation's responsibilities include protection while they are on business travel, at a remote site or working from home. Organisations are also expected to take a proactive approach to risk management, such as developing robust crisis management plans and implementing emergency preparedness procedures.

sudan crisis team

Legal and ethical implication of neglecting Duty of Care in crises

The legal and ethical implications of Duty of Care during a crisis are very significant. For an organisation, upholding these obligations is not only crucial for protecting their employees but also for promoting their ethical values, thereby aiding talent retention, and maintaining a positive business reputation. Failure to fulfil them has also been proven to result in reputational damage, loss of productivity, increased employee turnover as well as overall cost to the organisation.

The future for organisations

Global crises have highlighted the importance of Duty of Care – and it is likely that organisations will continue to prioritise risk management and crisis response in the future. Strategies for organisations and individuals to uphold their responsibilities include ongoing review and evaluation of policies and procedures, proactive risk management, and a commitment to promoting and safeguarding the health and wellbeing of their employees. 

How International SOS can help

For almost four decades, our security, health, logistics and digital experts have been supporting over 9,000 global organisations uphold their Duty of Care responsibilities and ensuring their business continuity.

Regardless of your industry, size or location, we understand the risks of your people and how to empower workforce resilience.

Get in touch to speak to us about your Duty of Care journey.