Ebola. Terrorism. H1N1. Civil unrest. SARS. Tsunamis. The Zika Virus. Sound familiar? These are all global issues that have become uncommonly understood terms in the United States. While these are now commonly understood terms, however, understanding how to prevent issues like these from happening is not o commonly understood. In particular, understanding how employers can protect their employees both domestically and their workers abroad from these global issues, among others, is becoming a rising concern.
With this rising concern comes an increased focus on an employers’ Duty of Care to its employees both domestically and abroad, including the employer’s duty to understand the threats its employees may face and how to respond to these threats from a preventative standpoint. It is no longer sufficient for an employer to be familiar and compliant only with United States laws and regulations (i.e., OSHA, workers’ compensation, etc.) affecting its workforce. Indeed, employers need to be familiar with and sufficiently address the issues facing their workers who travel and/or perform work abroad.
It may seem like an impossible feat for employers to uphold their Duty of Care obligations in a world where new global issues and threats emerge each day, but it would behoove and employer to understand and address its legal, moral, ethical, and financial Duty of Care responsibilities. Understanding the legal obligations and preventing the risks associated with employee foreign travel and work assignments is imperative for employers, exclusive of size or industry.