As business travel becomes ever more integral to corporate growth plans, employers need to be aware that the threat of kidnap and ransom can occur in any region. As companies expand into new territories this can potentially increase the risk to business travellers, yet according to The Health Insurance Group, employers underestimate this risk and need to do more to protect their employees.
Approximately 40,000 kidnappings occur every year and more than 40 per cent of these are of business personnel or their dependants. Regions with the highest risk such as Mexico, Libya and Bangladesh, are well known and employers may have been aware of these risks for some time. However, kidnappings can occur in any region and it’s important that employers consider the risks wherever they send their staff.
It is vital that companies have adequate protection for their staff to ensure they are properly prepared should the worst happen. Employers also need to remember, this isn’t only relevant for expats, but any staff that travel for work.
What has changed?
Data suggests high-risk areas are expanding their territory and getting more dangerous. Business travel to these regions is also rising. Result Group, the risk and crisis management consultancy, reports a significant deterioration of the safety situation across Africa in the last four years – an attractive continent for business due to its rapid economic growth.
Kidnap and ransom, whilst most common in high-risk regions is not exclusive to them, it can happen anywhere, so it is understandable that employees may be getting more worried about their personal safety. Indeed, research from ABTA shows that safety is employers’ number one concern for staff that travel abroad for work.
Given this context, it is now a priority for employers to be prepared, wherever they are sending staff. In practice this includes conducting research before travel, getting advice from experts and ensuring the relevant insurance is in place. Not only will such steps ensure adequate protection is in place, it also enables a company to fulfil its legal obligations to staff, and is a reassurance for staff working abroad.
Sarah Dennis, head of international for The Health Insurance Group says, ‘Sadly, we have to recognise that the risk of kidnap and ransom is increasing and it isn’t just limited to high-risk areas. The good news is, there are specific kidnap and ransom policies that have been designed to specifically protect companies with staff working abroad. A kidnap and ransom policy should be an integral part of the provisions that employers make to meet their duty of care for overseas and travelling staff – wherever they’re working.’
What is needed?
Employers must recognise the increasing threat of kidnap and ransom as they seek to grow their business, not only in high-risk areas. To meet the duty of care they have to staff it is essential for businesses to seek expert advice and have kidnap and ransom policies in place before sending staff abroad.