Duty of care: Who takes care of the people staying at home?

Research has shown that international corporate travel can have a significant impact on the families of corporate travellers. It results in higher levels of stress at home as somebody suddenly has to take care of children or housekeeping alone. A trip can also have a significant impact on children. Employer's duty of care often does not take into account the families that stay at home. Perhaps this is a missed opportunity. Should employers take the families of their employees into consideration when organizing trips?

A reassured employee is more effective

Duty of care is the responsibility of the employer. However, this duty of care only extends to the employee. Their families do not fall under this duty of care and they are not the responsibility of the employer. However, the situation of their families does affect employees' state of mind. A reassured and happy family results in a reassured and motivated employee which, in turn, improves the effectiveness of the trip. This makes the extension of duty of care to include families of added value to the employer. Below I have given a few tips that the different parties can use to extend the duty of care to families.

Tips for the employer

What can the employer do for families? I have a few suggestions:

  • Take the private life of your employee into consideration. Try to avoid trips in the weekends or during the holiday periods as much as possible. 
  • Try to keep the number of last-minute trips to a minimum. Last-minute trips have a much larger impact on families than trips that have been planned in advance.
  • Facilitate communication between all parties involved. Who is the point of contact for the family at the employer? Who is the contact person at the travel agent? And who can be contacted outside of office hours? 
  • Make it possible for the employee to save frequent flyer miles that can be used for private travel that will allow their families to experience the world of travel for themselves.

Tips for the traveller

As the traveller you can also do a number of things that will reassure your family when you are on your corporate travel.

  • Talk to your children before your departure. Tell them where you're going, show it to them on a map, and tell them when you'll be back.
  • Keep in regular contact with your family during your trip. Skype, FaceTime, and WhatsApp can be used to quickly catch up and send pictures to your family.
  • Try to be back in the Netherlands just before the weekend or take a day off after your return from a long trip.
  • Bring a small gift from the country/city that you visited for younger children.

Tips for families

Families can also help to make the trip a little less stressful.

  • Hide little notes or small gifts from the children in the luggage.
  • Follow the traveller's movements on the map and keep in regular contact.
  • Organize a special activity with the children such as a sleep-over party or go to see a film. This will create a distraction for the children and they will be less concerned about their mum's or dad's trip.
  • Make sure that the employer or travel agent has the contact details of the family of the traveller, so that contact is always possible. 
  • Create a visual representation of the duration of the corporate travel. For example, KLM has developed a special nightlight that helps children to see when their mum or dad will be back.

This makes duty of care a three-way street. The travelling employee, their families, and the employer have a duty of care towards each other and need to work together to enhance the effectiveness of the trip. I would love to hear about your experiences of corporate travel and duty of care for families.

Ivo Dusch
Ivo Dusch
Result Manager
Share this article

Leave us your comment!