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AXA Assistance : business travel must remain UK employers’ duty of care focus

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Against a backdrop of increased spend on business travel in 2013 and beyond, organisations whose staff travel outside of the UK on business, must ensure they continue to focus on their duty of care to these employees says AXA Assistance, a global specialist provider of emergency response and assistance services.

According to the Global Business Travel Association, UK businesses are increasing their spend on business travel in 2013, and this trend is set to continue. Its recent business travel outlook for Western Europe1 shows that the UK is one of only two countries in Europe where spending on business travel is expected to increase.

With increased business travel it is crucial for UK employers to ensure they are taking all steps reasonably possible to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of employees at work. For employees who travel on behalf of their employer the potential risks can sometimes be overlooked, especially where travel is within the EU.

Kelly Ward, Sales & Marketing Director AXA Assistance said: “Terrorist attacks like those in Algeria earlier this year serve to highlight the significant risks that employees can face. However, business travel risks can have a serious impact even where they happen in locations much closer to home.

“Civil action and economic related protests in countries such as France and Greece can put employees in difficult and dangerous situations.  Firms have clear legal and health and safety responsibilities as well as a moral and ethical duty of care for their staff. Failure to uphold these responsibilities can result in significant penalties.

Ward continued: “Some organisations do not fully recognise that travel in Europe can still materially impact on their staff and operations and falls within the duty of care requirements.”

AXA Assistance believes that this lack of recognition could be because of the difficulties many organisations experience in readily accessing extensive, real-time data and relevant business travel information, and as a result may not be fully aware of the issues their employees could face.

To address this AXA Assistance has launched Intelligo. The solution provides businesses and their employees with a robust and responsive system to access practical, medical and security information on a global basis as well as one of the market’s most comprehensive medical provider databases.

Data is provided covering pre-travel and trip preparation information such as an evaluation of security risks and health issues and relevant alerts on risks at the travel destination, visa requirements, mandatory and recommended vaccinations and the general health care situation. In addition, information on related health issues and alerts for those returning from their business trips is provided.

While travelling employees use the Intelligo Smartphone app to obtain up-to-date security and health alerts, access and referral services to approved medical providers within the parameters established by their employers. The app also includes an e-call feature which directly contacts AXA Assistance with data about the employee and their location allowing the caller to speak with a medical or security expert.

Each business client has their own online corporate area which they can customise and administer to provide employees with access to their documents and procedures, relevant information, news and contact points.

The real-time country security and intelligence data is provided by iJET International, a provider of intelligence-driven operational risk management solutions. The health information and access to medical providers is via AXA Assistance’s own medical database which covers close to 50,000 facilities worldwide.

Ward said: “This combination of two market-leading providers enables our clients to access a significantly higher quality and level of detail on a world-wide basis. This is an important service differentiator for clients.”

The role of technology in supporting business travellers is increasingly recognised as being important by HR, Risk and Security Managers in ensuring the delivery of real-time information to employees on the ground when they need it. However some providers are not responding to meet the needs of employers.

Ward concluded: “We do not believe that employers should only be able to access a one-size-fits-all solution or employees have to make a phone call to their service provider just to find the most appropriate medical provider. We have made a significant investment in the development of the app to be able to respond to meet the needs of employers and employees alike.”