Protecting Your Staff On The Road - what you may not know about OH&S laws

20 June 2016

Business travel is a fact of life for many Australian and New Zealand workers, and the days of absence continue to increase year on year. In fact, 2015 saw a total of 3.7 million days of overseas business travel for New Zealand residents, which is a huge number considering that there are only 2.5 million adults of working age in New Zealand.

Historically business travel was just something that employees got on with, largely at their own risk. However, with strict OH&S laws in place in Australia and the recent introduction of new legislation in New Zealand, business owners have a legal obligation to take the health and safety of employees who are travelling for business a lot more seriously.

What are YOUR responsibilities as a business owner? 

Put simply, the reality now is that the same health and safety rules that apply in the workplace (typically the office, factory or worksite) apply to all of the locations where employees might be staying or working.

The consequences of not complying with the legislation are extremely serious too, with employers found to be in breach facing significant personal fines or even jail time. It’s never been more important to ensure your workers are safe, wherever they are working. 

The newly introduced Health and Safety at Work Act in New Zealand mirrors the changes that were bought into effect in Australia in 2012 and 2013, and carries fierce penalties for businesses and directors that fail to comply.

Darrin Grafton, Serko CEO said “with more than 50% of Australia’s corporate travel booked through Serko online, we have worked closely with Australian customers to meet their strict OH&S regulatory requirements and are now uniquely positioned to leverage the expertise we’ve built in this area for the New Zealand market.”

A key requirement of organisations (CEOs and Boards) to ensure they fulfil their duty of care responsibilities is to have a demonstrable plan to make their workers as safe as possible, wherever they may be working – and as a result, effective travel management processes play an important role. 

“From an employer’s perspective, the first step towards compliance is to know, with absolute certainty, when and how their people are travelling and where they’re staying while they’re on the road. A big step in making this possible is to ensure the end-to-end visibility of the travel booking process.

By integrating their business travel and being able to book it through one, easy-to-use platform like Serko Online, businesses are able to easily track the movements of their employees, whether they’re on a flight, resting up at a hotel or driving a hire car to a remote meeting,” said Grafton.

In light of the changes, all New Zealand businesses should have a duty of care programme and travel policy in place, and businesses that already have one should review it to ensure it complies with the new legislative requirements.

Learn more about how can help to reduce your risk of non-compliance.

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