This article on the Corporate Manslaughter Act was written exclusively for Bytestart by Ian Lower, Group Information Technology Director for BSI, Europe’s leading specialist business accommodation provider.
In April 2008, the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Bill came into force in the UK. This is an area that has been high on the business travel agenda since 9/11, and the Act renders UK companies liable for the well being of their employees, whether traveling across the Atlantic or around the UK’s motorway network.
After years of lobbying by campaign groups, relatives and trade unions, who had been affected by a series of high profile disasters where prosecutions failed or could not be mounted, the measure finally came into force. Cases included the Paddington rail crash in 1999, which saw 31 deaths and numerous injuries to passengers, many of whom would have been traveling for business purposes.
The Act demands maximum compliance with the company travel policy to minimise risk. This means that the travel arranger is now in the front line when it comes to knowing where those traveling on business are at any one time.
Five months after the Act was introduced, and despite businesses now being required to adhere to stringent corporate manslaughter regulation, our team at BSI commissioned a survey which revealed signs that not all SMEs are taking the issue as seriously as they should.
Many SMEs are not complying with Corporate Manslaughter Act
Undertaken by Teamsearch, an independent research agency, the report showed that one in six SMEs questioned (16%) have no way of knowing in an emergency where employees are staying or located, whilst more than one in ten (11%) believe that making employee duty of care a paramount consideration is not relevant to them.
The research has therefore shown that a number of SMEs are not following best practice procurement when buying and booking overnight accommodation, meetings and events. As margins tighten, SMEs are faced with even greater budgetary and resource pressures, however they also have a legal duty to ensure the security and welfare of the travelling employee, as part of their duty of care and CSR duties.
It is essential that companies include in their purchasing decisions criteria that demonstrates that their chosen suppliers, such as hotels and accommodation providers, meet the highest standards for security and care.