By Senior Account Manager Simon Hawley.
With the Covid-19 pandemic shining a light onto travel safety and security, this no longer falls within the remit of procurement teams and cost control is no longer the priority. We wanted to give you a whistle-stop best-practice guide on where to start with managing employer duty of care and traveller confidence. Starting with the risks to travel safety and security, it could be anything from travel disruption and natural disasters to crime and conflict, or more recently, disease outbreak.
Likewise, when you look at compliance, you have to consider the impact of immigration assessments, posted worker directives, and corporate and employment tax implications.
The best way to break this down is as follows:
Pre-booking: assess the options from risk management solution providers, using travel risk intelligence to assist in decision making and working out who is best to give the business approval.
Pre-trip: Get advice on location-specific information, set up travel alerts for the destination and wellbeing support.
During: Provide support by ensuring travel disruption alerts are set, there is in-country support (even if it is at a local level) and there are facilities for repatriation and tracking (should an incident occur).
In the worst-case scenario and an event is triggered, you have to be ready. Having a Business Continuity Plan within your organisation is key. Make sure it has an owner and they have included all the potential travel scenarios, engaged with your TMC to understand responsibility, and tested and communicated these plans so all employees are aware.
Having both worked on the customer and TMC side, we have seen first-hand that there is often confusion of who is responsible for providing safety and security provisions. This is understandable – these services have a symbiotic relationship - and it is critical to know who does what:
Visa, immigration, social security and tax risk management specialists:
Pre-trip assessment, approval and processing to ensure regulatory compliance and reporting.
Medical, safety and security specialists:
Pre-trip risk assessments and approval. Pre and in trip medical and security support. Lost visa/passport/funds support. Destination information. Evacuation from hostile and remote environments. GPS tracking capabilities. Pre-trip assessment, approval and processing to ensure regulatory compliance and reporting.
Travel management companies:
Single point for all travel booking, capturing every traveller and trip. Travel policy compliance, approval processes, itinerary data tracking. Integrated into customers crisis management plans. Data hand off source, for customer risk management solutions.
The first and most common assumption is that the TMC provides everything, from trip booking, medical assistance to visa assessment. The TMC enables these activities, but it’s out of their remit to provide all of them.
The TMC is just the start of the journey, the central point in providing travel booking solutions. It is part of those crisis management plans we previously mentioned.
They are the ones aligning customers to booking best practice, compliance to travel policy being trusted travel advisors and collecting vast amounts of data connected to those trips.
It is this data that’s handed over to the other parties involved (such as medical, security and immigration specialists) to enable the further levels of support.
The safety of people
This is where you can sign up for different levels of provisions, depending on your business needs.
The core would be accessing destination advice (pre and during travel) via an app, phone or website, and usually as a result of a TMC providing the trip data. Essentially medical, security and travel assistance services – that help to prepare for a trip and most important are in place if anything goes wrong during the trip.
Non-core services, such as traveller tracking tools and pre-trip assessment, you normally pay extra for. TMCs typically provide trip approval triggered by the booking of trip itself – sometimes attached to location or cost parameters – and is normally sent to the travellers’ line manager.
Whereas the medical and security specialist assessment model can be more in depth. These give extensive in-country risk assessment protocols – from cybercrime to terrorism insight – and personal assessments of the individual’s physical and mental health, which are approved internally.
With the impact of Brexit and global immigration requirements, there is increased pressure to ensure travellers are assessed correctly for visa and tax requirements.
Work permit, visa and documentation will depend on the country being travelled too and activity undertaken. Business travellers should check the rules of their destination country to find out if a visa and/or permit is required and how to apply.
However, it can get complicated - the interpretation and application of individual EU states’ rules include A1 certificates (issued by HMRC that proves and induvial pays UK social security) and Posted worker directive (a person who carries out work in different EU Member State for a limited time.) Both are subject to induvial member state interpretation and have financial penalties attached for non -compliance. Specialists will advise on the best way to approach compliance and the assessment tool will advise on what documentation is required and how to file for it.
Travel insurance can often be misunderstood, in that the TMC also provides travel insurance. They don’t. Insurance and in particular, travel insurance, is provided by the corporate. But the communication the travel insurance details can form part of the support process discussed in the pyramid. Checking your travel insurance policy is critical – especially during this post-Covid times.
Customer Case study
We’ve helped many customers with their risk management. For Capita, we worked in partnership to establish the right level of safety, and security risk mitigations provisions were put in place to match the different business areas’ requirements. By setting up a travel risk working party, we built a pre-booking solution: a tool within our travel portal that assesses multiple elements of risk before travel is approved (such as health, safety, immigration and information security). We are also supporting travellers on the move, and enabling traveller tracking and compliance reporting.