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Why Duty of Care Matters in Corporate Housing

A property owner who fails to fix dangerous conditions on their property is in breach of duty of care — the moral and legal obligation to act in the best interest of others.

Meeting duty of care standards is important for any company with traveling employees. These standards of care ensure employees’ safety, security, and well-being. They also ensure companies are protected.

This article is a fundamental guide on the principles of duty of care that travel managers and businesses need to know. It will cover the following:

  • Definition of duty of care
  • Business responsibilities and legal obligations
  • Compliance considerations
  • Potential consequences for businesses
  • How relocation management companies help

What is Duty of Care?

General duty of care represents an individual or organization’s legal and moral obligation to avoid causing harm or adverse consequences to others.

Let’s look at the legal and moral duty of care in depth.

Legal Duty of Care

In legal terms, a duty of care establishes a legal obligation to act with reasonable care and take necessary precautions to prevent harm or injury to others. Laws, regulations, statutes, and legal precedents often establish this duty of care. Breaching the legal duty of care can lead to legal liabilities, such as lawsuits, fines, or penalties.

Some examples of duty of care in the legal context include: medical malpractice in healthcare, product liability, cybersecurity breaches, or personal injury cases

Moral Duty of Care

Outside legal terms, there is also a moral obligation to act in good faith based on ethical principles and personal values. Unlike the legal duty of care, the moral duty of care is not enforceable through legal mechanisms. It is driven by a reasonable person’s sense of moral responsibility, empathy, and concern for the well-being of others.

Some examples of duty of care in the moral context include: helping others in need, environmental stewardship, ethical business decisions and practices, and advocating for social justice.

Business Responsibilities and Legal Obligations

Duty of care in corporate housing is essential for safeguarding the well-being of employees, mitigating risks, and ensuring legal compliance. By prioritizing employee safety and comfort, companies can create a positive and secure environment for their employees during their temporary or extended stays.

Companies should consider the following.

Employee Safety

Ensuring duty of care requires employers to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety and security of their employees. By providing corporate housing in secure locations that meet safety standards, companies fulfil their duty to protect their employees from potential risks, hazards, or harm.

Legal and Ethical Obligations

Employers have legal and ethical obligations to provide a safe working environment for their employees, including during their temporary stays in corporate housing. Failure to fulfll these obligations may lead to legal liabilities and reputational damage.

Employee Well-being

Corporate housing plays a significant role in the well-being and productivity of employees. A comfortable, clean, and well-maintained living environment can positively affect employee morale, mental health, and overall satisfaction. From stringent cleaning practices to up-to-date security systems, providing suitable accommodations improves employees’ overall well-being and happiness.

Risk Management

Fulfilling the duty of care can help mitigate employee health, safety, and security risks. Employers can reduce the likelihood of accidents, incidents, and emergencies by carefully selecting housing providers, conducting due diligence on the accommodations, and regularly monitoring their condition.

Compliance with Regulations

Corporate housing providers must comply with local laws, regulations, and building codes to ensure the safety and suitability of the accommodations. As responsible entities, employers should ensure that their housing providers adhere to these regulations and standards, reinforcing their duty of care.

Considerations to Ensure Duty of Care Compliance

Housing providers and employers must create a safe, secure, and comfortable living environment for traveling employees.

Below are items that all companies should consider if they have employees in corporate housing.

  1. Property Selection and Evaluation: Corporate housing providers must carefully evaluate properties before offering them to employees. This includes assessing the safety features, security measures, cleanliness, and overall suitability of the accommodations.
  2. Maintenance and Repairs: Housing providers must ensure that the corporate housing is adequately maintained and that any necessary repairs or maintenance work is promptly addressed. This includes addressing issues such as plumbing problems, electrical faults, broken appliances, or any other potential hazards that may arise.
  3. Safety and Security Measures: Corporate housing should have appropriate safety and security measures. This may include installing smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, secure locks, and surveillance systems. Housing providers should regularly inspect and maintain these measures to ensure their effectiveness.
  4. Emergency Preparedness: Providers should have protocols to handle natural disasters, medical emergencies, or security threats. This includes having clear evacuation plans, providing emergency contact information, and ensuring employees know of emergency procedures.
  5. Health and Hygiene Standards: Housing providers should maintain cleanliness standards and ensure proper sanitation in corporate housing. This involves regular cleaning, providing necessary amenities such as clean bedding, towels, and toiletries, and addressing pest control issues.
  6. Compliance with Legal and Regulatory Requirements: Corporate housing providers must comply with local laws, building codes, and health and safety regulations. This includes meeting requirements for occupancy limits, fire safety standards, accessibility standards, and other relevant regulations.
  7. Communication and Support: Providers should establish effective communication channels with employees or tenants, making themselves accessible for inquiries, concerns, or emergencies. Prompt and effective communication helps address any issues or needs during the stay.
  8. Training and Education: Employers have a duty to educate employees about the safety and security measures in place and provide information about local laws, customs, and potential risks. This ensures that employees know their responsibilities and how to navigate their surroundings safely.

Breach of Duty of Care Consequences

Several consequences may occur when there is a breach of the duty of care obligations in corporate housing. These consequences can vary depending on the severity of the violation, the resulting harm or damages, and the legal and contractual arrangements in place.

Below are some potential outcomes when there is a breach of duty of care.

Legal Liability

If the breach of duty of care leads to harm or injury to an employee or tenant, the housing provider or employer may be held legally liable. The affected individual can file a lawsuit seeking compensation for damages, medical expenses, or other losses resulting from the breach.

Reputational Damage

A breach of duty of care can have significant reputational implications for the housing provider or employer. News of negligence or disregard for employee safety and well-being can damage the company’s reputation. It may lead to negative publicity, loss of trust from employees or clients, and difficulty attracting talent in the future.

Financial Consequences

Breaching the duty of care can result in financial implications. This can include paying compensation or settlements to affected individuals, legal fees, fines, or penalties imposed by regulatory bodies, and the costs associated with rectifying the issues and implementing corrective measures.

Employee Dissatisfaction and Disengagement

Failing to fulfil the duty of care can negatively affect employee satisfaction, morale, and engagement. Employees feeling unsafe or uncomfortable in their corporate housing can affect their overall well-being, productivity, and loyalty to the company. High employee turnover and decreased productivity may result from a breach of duty of care.

Regulatory Compliance Issues

Breaching the duty of care may also result in regulatory compliance issues. Housing providers and employers may face investigations or audits by relevant authorities to assess the extent of the breach and the measures taken to address the situation. Failure to comply with regulations can lead to further legal consequences and additional penalties.

Loss of Business Opportunities

In the corporate housing industry, breaches of the duty of care can lead to losing business opportunities. Other companies or organisations may hesitate to engage with a housing provider or employer with a history of negligence or inadequate care for employees’ well-being.

How Relocation Management Companies Help

Housing providers and employers should take proactive steps to mitigate the consequences of a breach of duty of care.

Companies often work with relocation management companies (RMCs) to ensure they meet all duty of care obligations. These partners are experts in the legal duties companies must adhere to and can help companies manage a comprehensive duty of care program.

RMCs can help by:

  • Partnering only with safe and reliable housing providers
  • Conducting risk assessments
  • Implementing health and safety standards
  • Providing employee education and resources
  • Conducting regular inspections and audits
  • Continuously monitoring quality and safety
  • Engaging with legal and compliance experts

One common concern among companies that use hospitality providers is a need for more safety and security measures standardisation. That is why AltoVita has partnered with Breezeway, the leading property care and operations platform for hospitality professionals.

In its 2022 report, Breezeway found that 20% of property managers must conduct regular safety inspections. Through the AltoVita and Breezeway integration, corporate professionals can review accommodations using Breezeway’s safety and security evaluation, providing peace of mind that the housing they are booking is verified to be clean, safe, and secure.

AltoVita only works with hospitality operators who are the duty of care-compliant. Hospitality operators must pass a rigorous three-tier quality control process, ensuring duty of care compliance.

Are you looking for a solution to your duty of care challenges? AltoVita can help. Schedule a demo today.

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