Flexibility and short-term approaches are the key to duty of care in a Covid-19 world

For domestic business travellers, highly localised regional restrictions pose greater threats to their wellbeing and safety, with changes being implemented regularly.

As employers continue to deal with the unpredictable nature of travel, TMCs are evolving in order to offer more flexible services that feel relevant to today’s travellers. Although not in most TMC’s business plan for the year ahead, travel management providers are now offering more short-term, responsive solutions for clients who are trying to navigate ever-changing local lockdowns and travel restrictions.

In the case of duty of care, this involves looking at travel programmes within the context of a new set of priorities and seeking a service that suits right now, rather than long-term approaches that assume international and business travel will return in terms of reach and demand.

With fast change the only constant, a flexible, comprehensive duty of care approach is essential. What was previously thought of as being a concern for larger organisations with extensive international travel programmes, duty of care is now an absolute essential for any business. Corporates who might have only had domestic travel needs are being forced to reassess the role of duty of care, something they have previously assumed was reserved for organisations sending their people to more remote locations.

For domestic business travellers, highly localised regional restrictions pose greater threats to their wellbeing and safety, with changes being implemented regularly. It is vital that an organisation has access to relevant and up-to-date information and advice surrounding changes in the health and safety landscape not just for international destinations, but closer to home as well.

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In the new Covid-19 world, it is more important now than ever that employees feel safe and supported by their employers. All employers, regardless of their size, should now be taking extra care with the manner in which they’re looking after their employees. The right duty of care approach has the ability to be sized up and down as threats and restrictions increase or ease.

As essential business travel resumes, employees’ expectations will be higher with regards to what their company is doing to support them before and during travel, and just as importantly, upon their return should they need to quarantine. Without a robust duty of care programme, employees may feel apprehensive towards even local or domestic travel.

With this in mind, duty of care is becoming a flexible service that can be added per journey, per project or per person, rather than a company-wide annual programme. Of course as a TMC we want our clients to embrace advisory services that provide duty of care recommendations, policies and approaches for this new normal in the long term. However, there is a stark economic reality that in many cases businesses are not able, or not ready, to tackle huge holistic programmes right now.

At ATPI, we understand the need for flexibility. We- have a track record of supporting our clients whose travel is mission-critical in the most unpredictable of scenarios and locations, and we know that embracing change is key, just as it is in current times. As a result, we’re offering more adaptable packages to our clients we now provide duty of care support per booking with no annual license, starting with the UK. Given the sheer pace of change in the current situation, a flexible package ensures we’re supporting our clients with a service that meets their need for the immediate term.

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Flexible solutions, such as duty of care support for each individual booking, has the benefit of accessibility. We have clients in sectors that have been catastrophically impacted by national lockdowns, but this doesn’t mean that their responsibility to their people has lessened. It is still a priority to provide first-class services and support to those who do travel. Restrictions come and go and vary by region, and so a flexible duty of care option is the only one that can meaningfully and realistically protect their people.

Duty of care is an ever-increasing corporate responsibility. Making this valuable service as easy as possible to bolt onto a travel programme – however reduced and erratic – is an essential support TMCs can provide to their clients right now.

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