New Legal Guidance on Duty of Care for Canadian Employers from International SOS Foundation

08 March 2016 ,  —


Guidance developed in partnership with Sherrard Kuzz LLP and 
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety Strengthens Risk Preparation

The International SOS Foundation, in partnership with Sherrard Kuzz LLP, a leading employment and labor law firm, and the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, announced today new duty of care legal guidance for Canadian employers with employees who travel and work abroad.

duty of care legal guidance picture

The key recommendation is that Canadian employers apply all local site occupational health and safety rules and regulations for employees abroad as legal responsibilities are still in development, in addition to adhering to Canadian duty of care standards.

“Whether an employee is on a temporary or longer-term assignment, it is the prudent, economically and arguably ethical approach for Canadian employers to adhere to these measures,” said Mike Sherrard, Sherrard Kuzz LLP co-founder. “Following this protocol will not only help employers keep their workers safe, but also mitigate potential risks and liability issues for the company.”

In addition to established occupational health and safety principles, Canadian employers should undertake careful and detailed planning of possible workplace hazards. This planning includes engaging subject matter experts to conduct proactive risk assessments, establish necessary policies, procedures and training in light of the risks identified, and engage critical response assets to keep their workers safe.

Risk Assessment

  • Canadian employers should make reasonable efforts to mirror “at home” circumstances at local work sites and engage a subject matter expert familiar with both Canadian workplace health and safety programs as well as local country and site conditions where workers are travelling or working.
  • Once the expert is engaged, follow the five step risk assessment method.

Establish Policies, Procedures and Training

  • Risk assessment findings and updates should be captured in a tailored, comprehensive workplace Travel Risk Management Policy that includes a process to identify and assess travel risks, strategies to address these risks, and procedures to respond rapidly and effectively to all events and emergencies.
  • Workers should also be provided with a dynamic information package or briefing prior to departure including a detailed itinerary, contingency plan in the case of emergency and information regarding destination-specific risks

Engage Critical Response Assets

  • Employers or employer designates offering medical/security assistance need to require the ability to convene a crisis management team.
  • This team should be deployed as geographically close to the event as necessary and encompass all appropriate disciplines such as medical, security, logistic and aviation.  

“Ultimately, it is up to the employer to provide the necessary measures to protect employees living and working abroad,” said Steve Horvath, President and CEO at Radiation Safety Institute of Canada. “We hope that employers will follow these guidelines as we seek to eliminate work-related illnesses and injuries in Canada and around the globe.”

“In accordance with their duty of care, Canadian employers need to take a proactive stance to protect their employees living and working abroad,” said Dr. Robert Quigley, ‎Senior Vice President and Regional Medical Director at Internationals SOS. “To the extent possible, it is in employers’ best interest to apply their same established principles to work locations outside of Canada.” 

A copy of “Canada's Mobile Workforce: A Legal Perspective on Duty of Care and Employer Best Practices” white paper is available for download at:




About International SOS Foundation - Ambassadors for Duty of Care

The International SOS Foundation is an independent, non-profit organisation, established in 2011 with registered charity status. The International SOS Foundation commissions and shares research and best practice for a greater understanding and mitigation of risks in areas of Duty of Care for the global workforce. Key topics supported via thought-leadership programmes are: risk management, sustainability, prevention and work health. For more information:

For more information on Duty of Care and the International SOS Foundation, please visit


Sherrard Kuzz LLP

Sherrard Kuzz LLP is one of Canada’s leading employment and labour law firms exclusively representing the interests of management. In operation for 14 years, the firm works with clients in Canada and internationally, in both the public and private sectors. Its clients range in size as well as complexity of operations from small, single-location, single-business enterprises to large, multi-site, diverse, multinational corporations. Its extensive areas of practice include: collective bargaining, employee relations, executive employment agreements and compensation, arbitrations and mediation, human rights issues, workplace audits and investigations, wrongful and constructive dismissal litigation, policy development and implementation, and occupational health and safety

Recognized nationally and internationally, Sherrard Kuzz LLP is consistently named among Canada’s Top 10 Employment and Labour Boutiques (Canadian Lawyer®), Canada’s Leading Employment & Labour Law Firms (Chambers Global®) and Repeatedly Recommended (Lexpert®).


Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety 

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) has a vision: the elimination of work-related illnesses and injuries. We serve Canadians - and the world - with credible and relevant tools and resources to improve workplace health and safety programs. We encourage you to join us in creating a work world without pain, loss or tragedy. We believe that all Canadians have a fundamental right to a healthy and safe working environment. Through our programs, services, knowledge, commitment, and action, CCOHS continues its efforts to advance health and safety in the workplace.