Sexual encounters whilst working abroad the precautions to take

09 October 2013 ,  —


Many companies are failing to prepare their staff for overseas business travel, and do not realise they may have some responsibility to their employees for misadventures that occur outside of working hours. 

Nearly 10 per cent of respondents to a survey during a recent International SOS webinar, Does your sex determine your risk: the realities of business people on tour, said their companies do nothing to prepare them for overseas assignments and do not arrange travel or provide briefings or pre-departure assessments. 


“Pre-travel briefings, knowing what constitutes a risk in the locations employees are travelling to and understanding each traveller’s personal profile should be included in pre-departure preparation. Men and women face somewhat different risks while abroad so companies need to prepare their travellers accordingly,” International SOS Regional Security Director, Simon Francis said. 


“The traditional profile of a business traveller is changing with nearly half of all business travel carried out by women today,” International SOS Medical Director, Dr Irene Lai said. 

“While women are more likely to obtain pre-travel advice before travelling, men are more likely to take risks while travelling abroad,” Dr Lai said. 
This is backed up by International SOS case data review of 50 large companies from 2009 – 2012 which shows men required medical assistance more often than women. Three quarters of all of accident cases occurred in men, and the majority (70 per cent) of sickness cases were males.  Under new Australian Workplace Health and Safety legislation, Australian companies owe their travelling workers and overseas assignees the same legal duty of care as their local workers. The duties owed to workers under the Model WHS Laws are criminal in nature which means businesses and individuals that fail to discharge the duties imposed upon them are exposed to criminal prosecution and, if found guilty, subject to conviction for a criminal offence. 


“Companies need to educate their travelling staff about the potential health and safety risks abroad.  Leisure activities are not free of risk and injuries can be sustained during sport or sightseeing,” Dr Lai said.   


“The ongoing compensation case of a public servant injured on a business trip while having sex with an acquaintance also brings to the forefront the extent to which employers are responsible for any activities their employees engage in when travelling or on assignment,” Dr Lai said. 

In some cases activities that we don’t traditionally think of as risky at home may not be safe overseas. Pedicures in places where hygiene is not a priority can result in bacterial infections and there is a theoretical risk of blood-borne diseases like Hepatitis B. 


“Companies should be aware that destinations considered ‘low risk’ can still pose risks for unprepared travellers. For example, drink spiking can happen in almost any country, not to mention drinking to excess affects judgement, putting travellers at risk when overseas,” Simon Francis said.
Click here to download a recording of the webinar, Does your sex determine your risk: the realities of business people on tour. 

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Notes to Editors

About International SOS

International SOS is the world’s leading medical and travel security risk services company. We care for clients across the globe, from more than 1000 locations in 90 countries.

Our expertise is unique: More than 11,000 employees are led by 1,400 doctors and 200 security specialists. Teams work night and day to protect our members. 

We pioneer a range of preventive programmes strengthened by our in-country expertise. We deliver unrivalled emergency assistance during critical illness, accident or civil unrest. 

We are passionate about helping clients put Duty of Care into practice. With us, multinational corporate clients, governments and NGOs can mitigate risks for their people working remotely or overseas.

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