HR to the rescue: Saving staff in an overseas emergency

by Miklos Bolza23 May 2016
From terrorist attacks to tropical diseases, there are a great many risks that employers should be aware of when sending staff to work in a foreign country.
We talked to Bertrand Saillet, general manager of corporate travel management firm FCM Travel Solutions Singapore, about what can be done to protect employees while abroad.
“Before an emergency occurs overseas, it is the employer’s responsibility to make sure that most of the risks an employee might encounter are covered,” he said.
Pre-departure strategies include teaching the employee about the destination, providing key information, facts and figures about the country while going over potential risks like diseases, social unrest and dangerous areas to avoid.
Saillet also suggested that employers set up a process to track employees and determine where they are in real time if an emergency occurs.
“The employer should also inform travellers about their emergency contact numbers for assistance and/or evacuation.”
Finally, it is essential for employers to provide the right types of insurance cover while the individual is overseas, he said.
In some more extreme instances, the employer may blacklist certain destinations if the risk is too high.
“This should be added in the travel policy and needs to be communicated clearly to the traveller,” he said. “A specific process needs to be defined for particularly high-risk countries.”
In the event of an emergency, there are three steps an employer can take to ensure their employees are safe, Saillet said:
  1. Conduct round-the-clock follow-ups on an employee’s status to gain real-time updates of the situation on the ground
  2. Use technology to track where employees are at a given time for faster communication to those experiencing difficulties during the emergency
  3. Work in close partnership with external specialists to handle emergency travel arrangements, medical assistance, accommodation or evacuation on immediate notice
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