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Duty of care for international assignees has traditionally focused on immigration compliance, healthcare, emergency evacuations, and safety measures for employees in hardship or high-risk locations. But two major shifts have recently occurred: uncertain security and stability around the world, and the increasing use of Do It Yourself (DIY) options among employees.
Crown World Mobility’s new whitepaper surveyed more than 60 companies, 23% of which are based in Asia Pacific, to find the impact of duty of care policies on global mobility strategies.
Just over a quarter of the companies surveyed (28%) said they don’t have a duty of care programme, with one respondent saying: “We only make sure we are compliant with the law, visa, tax, etc. We are not located in countries of high risk.”
Among those that do have a programme, more than half said it is housed under the internal corporate security team (51%), while 23% said the global mobility team is responsible for it.
A significant one-fifth (21%) reported “other” models – such as splitting the responsibility between internal corporate security and global mobility; assigning it to HR; or using an external service provider.
The commonest support provided to international assignees comes in the form of: support in high-risk locations [more details below]; general briefings and communication; and travel tracking.
High-risk location support typically provided includes:
- Cars and drivers
- Driving lessons; hijack advance driving course for certain locations
- Secure housing, gated communities and security cameras
- Homes that meet security standards (i.e. CCTV cameras, etc.)
- Security assessment of accommodation
- Asset protection team keeps in touch with assignees
Given the current environment of uncertainty, primarily motivated by the threat of terrorism, companies are evolving their duty of care policies, with two in three (66%) saying they have protocols in place to communicate with assignees during a large-scale crisis.
The most common change made recently is that one-fifth (21%) have formed a duty of care taskforce, with stakeholders such as HR, security, business leaders, corporate travel, etc. Another 30% have implemented either new security procedures or technology to track employees.
Meanwhile, 51% haven’t made any significant changes to their policy recently.
Are DIY mobility approaches catching on?
DIY approaches, such as the usage of Airbnb for accomodation, have certainly become more pervasive, but the responses in the whitepaper highlighted both policy approaches and concerns around it.
Sample comments and comments around do-it-yourself policies include:
- “The main tension is providing flexibility and keeping up with trends/preferences, but maintaining adequate Duty of Care over bookings organised and/or paid for by the company.”
- “Having visibility of where our expats are in the event of an emergency.”
- “No concerns at all. The young assignees are naturally independent.”
- “Self-service is fine. My concern is moving to a cash-based approach and international assignees selecting their own suppliers, such as a B&B accommodation not regulated by our organisation.”
- “Employees may not be familiar with the host location. They may make bad choices and this
is a reputational risk for the company, and a risk for the expatriate and family.”
- “Responsibility for relocation will now be ‘off-shored’ to the employee? Individual support gives employees a better feeling of care.”
Report author Lisa Johnson finds DIY as an area to watch, pointing out that technology and trends are moving faster than the guidelines and policies in place.
Photo / 123RF