An Expat Employer’s Fiduciary Duty of Care for Expats
Sending employees abroad is a big financial, moral and legal responsibility for expatriate employers. Many professionals are constantly talking about the importance of providing a “duty of care” for expat employees sent to work abroad and even when sending employees for long or short term assignments and meetings. What does this mean? In my view, it basically means that the global employer needs to take all steps required to safeguard and prepare for the safety, well being and health of their employees. It is the fiduciary responsibility that experienced global mobility managers realize is so important regardless of the legal implications – its a moral responsibility. This is especially true today in a world where conflict and terrorism can strike almost anywhere. It makes sense to plan for what your employees may face abroad.
Employers Should Examine Their Obligations
It is critical that expat employers meet the overseas obligations of their employees, whom can find themselves in new and sometimes hazardous regions and countries that they may not be adequately prepared for. It is vital that HR managers carefully read over the employment contracts to make sure that the company is fulfilling its obligations to their employees. This means that employers should examine their employees’ needs and country location to prepare for contingencies. Our firm has access to very detailed country information that can provide global mobility managers with key insights for each destination, including security reports.
Expat Employers Should Identify Risks
When your HR department is sending employees overseas, it often make sense to ID risk and adopt prevention measures and train employees. You can’t hope that nothing terrible will happen. You can’t account for all the risks that your employees and their dependents may face working or traveling abroad, but you can take steps now to plan and mitigate those situations. We recently had an employer who finally agreed to implement a comprehensive kidnap and ransom program with security evacuation and in the first year of the policy it was used after a group of employers were kidnapped by bandits. Luckily with the assistance of on-sight negotiators paid by the insurer and a ransom being negotiated, the hostages were released unharmed.
Inadequate Insurance Coverage for Expats
A recent report from Cigna mentioned that 50% of expatriate employees feel that their expat employers are not meeting their duty of care requirements for the global assignments that they are on. Furthermore, three quarters felt that they did not have sufficient funds to support their healthcare expenses. We often run into situations where new and even existing expat employers will send employees and their dependents (spouse & children) on overseas assignments with inadequate planning and especially insurance coverage. With more an more companies and non-profit organizations sending employees for short or long term assignments to high risk countries such as Iraq & Afghanistan, the requirement to provide a secure and safe work location is vital. Our firm has extensive experience in working with employers operating in such areas where civil strife and conflict are commonplace.
Common Expat Insurance Deficiencies We Have Observed
Here are a list of deficiencies that we often encounter:
- No coverage for pre-existing medical conditions
- No cover for pregnancy or a 12 month waiting period
- Many expat employers have no disability coverage in place
- Coverage is placed with insurers that simply can’t meet the needs of expats
- Lack of adequate evacuation cover that is not fully insured
- No war or terrorism coverage for employees residing in high risk countries
- Inability of expats to find medical centers that can receive medical payment directly from the insurer
What Expat Insurance Coverage Can Help Your Company Meet It’s Duty of Care?
A group expat plan that is properly designed and sourced can provide a high level of global insurance coverage that will fully meet the duty of care for your expatriate workforce stationed around the world. We are able to source the following coverage for our group expatriate clients:
- International Health Insurance
- Long Term Disability Insurance
- Personal Accident & Disablement
- Life Insurance
- International Employee Assistance
- Kidnap & Ransom
- Pre-assignment & Risk Assessments
- Business Travel Insurance for Short Term Assignments.
- Security Evacuation
It is critical that your global mobility department fully commit to the duty of care philosophy and provide global coverage for your employees that exceeds what is required no matter where they are posted. Our firm can source plans for individuals and groups. For more information on the global benefit plans that we can offer your international workers, please contact us today.