Scale-ups sending employees abroad for assignments have a duty of care to ensure employees understand the legislation and cultural differences of that country, Punter Southall Health & Protection has warned.
Following a story in the news about a British woman who was arrested in Egypt for entering the country with a prescription painkiller that is legal in the UK but not in Egypt, the employee benefits consultancy has pulled together some tips for companies operating overseas.
Audrey Rowley, managing consultant international recommends:
• Ensure the employee is medically fit
• Make sure any drugs that the employee/family needs are legal
• Give cultural training prior to travel
• Language skills – consider offering language courses where appropriate
• Consider an expatriate Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) which can provide employees with 24/7 support
• Provide international medical insurance.
“Failed assignments cost businesses thousands of pounds and create huge emotional stress for employees and their families. Individuals selected for overseas posts tend to be high fliers, so it makes real business sense for companies to ensure they fully prepare and support them pre, during and post their international assignments,” said Rowley.
“There are many affordable expatriate services available today to help companies get it right. These include pre-assignment health screening to ensure someone is fit for the assignment, cultural training for the whole family, comprehensive travel and medical insurance packages and access to Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) throughout the assignment. Such services are relatively cost effective for Employers, and the assurance and value they give employees is priceless.”
According to KPMG, 38 per cent of businesses offer cross-cultural training to assignees and family, and 35 per cent do not offer any cross-cultural training at all.