How Can Organizations Protect Employees in High-Risk Countries?

Kayla Mueller - Kidnappings in High-Risk CountriesUnfortunately, it is no longer uncommon to hear a story of an aid worker being kidnapped while operating in a high-risk area. Consequently, these common stories are largely ignored. Some of the kidnapped aid workers are ultimately released, but far too often the story comes to a tragic end as was the case with Kayla Mueller, who was kidnapped in Syria after leaving a Spanish Doctors Without Borders hospital.

Even more disturbing is that the number of kidnappings among aid workers and staff is on the rise. According to the New York Times, “in 2013, the most recent year with complete data, 460 aid workers were victims of attacks: 155 were killed, 171 seriously wounded and 134 kidnapped. That was a 66 percent increase in the number of victims from 2012.” Obviously, there is an increased need for security for organizations operating in high-risk areas. What is an effective precaution that can be taken by humanitarian organizations and global contractors working in higher risk countries? What risks do organizations and contractors face if they fail to protect employees working in dangerous environments?

What is Employee Tracking?

For organizations that have employees facing considerable danger, safety is always at the top of the list. There are many ways for companies to increase safety, but one of the simplest is often overlooked. Implementing an employee tracking program is a very effective way to manage risk. An employee tracking program can let you know where each employee is at all times, which could be critical in the event of a natural disaster or political or military upheaval, as well as during a kidnapping incident.

Companies such as International SOS provide comprehensive services based on GPS tracking of employees that can assist “organizations in the design and implementation of integrated risk mitigation solutions. These solutions are designed to proactively manage the medical and security risks associated with overseas travel or assignment. International SOS utilizes a set of practical tools (assistance app, web portal, automated reporting) that support travelers and managers alike during the course of a trip or assignment.” International SOS helps to prepare an organization’s employees before departure, supports and tracks them while abroad, and provides assistance during the event of an emergency.

As the demand for employee tracking services is growing rapidly, the number of companies offering tracking services is expanding as well. The aforementioned International SOS is one of the more established companies, and they are joined in the tracking business by iJET, Anvil Group and Concur. Safety precautions such as employee tracking are important not only for employee safety, but to protect organizations in the event of a lawsuit.

Why Are Safety Precautions Crucial For Organizations in High-Risk Areas?

There are two obvious answers – employee safety and Duty of Care requirements. Duty of Care laws obligate employers to put into place appropriate training and utilize the best available technology to keep their employees safe. If an organization or company fails to meet Duty of Care requirements, then they could be faced with a lawsuit and subject to enormous liability. There are two important steps employers can take to protect themselves against the cost of these potential lawsuits; D&O Insurance and Kidnap & Ransom Insurance.

D&O Insurance

A comprehensive Directors and Officers policy with Clements will ensure financial stability in the event of a lawsuit around issues such as errors in judgment, negligent supervision, conflicts of interest or unauthorized payments. With a Directors and Officers policy, both your international organization and staff are financially protected from any decisions employees make on behalf of the company.

Coverage for Directors and Officers insurance and trustee insurance can be highly customized, with the extent of the protection, and ultimately the cost, varying based on the limitations and exclusions listed in the policy. Clements recommends a complete package, which includes Directors and Officers Liability, Employment Practice Liability, and Professional Liability - Errors & Omissions. The insurance will cover costs of mounting a defense or paying a settlement. Having this coverage helps protect the financial resources of an organization and its board should a lawsuit arise.

Kidnap & Ransom Insurance

Clements Kidnap & Ransom insurance ensures financial assistance following a kidnapping, such as ransom demands, deployment of a crisis response team to manage the abduction and legal liabilities that may arise as a result of the kidnapping. The crisis response specialists help deal with the event from start to finish. These specialists, usually former military or FBI professionals, can give you training and advice on developing an educational program for employees. Their most important function is to manage a kidnapping situation, usually on-site. These experts have dealt with hundreds of kidnappings and have the expertise to deal with direct negotiations with kidnappers and exchanges as well as dealing with local authorities, the press, and the victim’s family.  

Keeping your employees safe is our priority. Call us today at +1.202.872.0060 or 800.872.0067 or e-mail to discuss how we can tailor our policy to meet the size and scope of your organization. 

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