Carrot & Stick

Duty of Care is a topic that carries legal and moral obligations for employers and touches all stages of the employee cycle. It is multi-dimensional and multi-layered and often managed by multi-stakeholders within an organisation. It touches upon all aspects of an employee’s experience with an organisation – from recruitment to exit. It is also a fluid concept as most organisation’s work is dynamic and constantly changing and renewing. The care and support for your employees must be able to adapt and be continuously reviewed.

The carrot and stick concept is a good way to approach an organisation’s legal and moral Duty of Care obligations.

What drives you the carrotCarrot & Stick

Your most valuable asset

Your employees are your most valuable asset.  We say this in our policy and practice all the time!  Valued and trusted employees are more likely to be engaged, committed and productive.

The benefits of happy, secure and motivated employees far outweigh the cost of taking those reasonable and necessary steps to ensure their health, safety and wellbeing.  We need to think longer-term…it will cost less.

What further incentive does an employer need?

Enabling those you work with

In an environment where Duty of Care practices are robust, employees know what to do, how to act, where to go, and, most importantly, when they can say no. It is an enabler for employer and employee.

Employers have a duty of care to take all reasonable steps to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of their employees and those they work with.

What pushes you the stick

Legal liability

From a legal perspective, employers are responsible for providing their employees with a reasonably safe working environment.

In most jurisdictions, employment legislation dictates that employers must exercise a reasonable standard of care towards its employees, and this includes volunteers and consultants. Employers must be aware of the risks in the work environment which are foreseeable from a reasonable person’s perspective.

Employers have a responsibility to ensure (1) their employees are equipped to do their role in a healthy and safe way and (2) they know their responsibilities when it comes to their own health, safety and security. Tested recently in a legal case heard in Norway, both the physical and psychological wellbeing of an employee fall into the Duty of Care remit. Stress-related or post-traumatic injury is becoming all too common an issue in the workplace and courts are taking personal psychological injury as seriously as physical injury – during and after an individual has left their employment. Employers’ policies and procedures must reflect a Duty of Care relevant to the type of work and environment their employees work in and these will be used in a court or tribunal when assessing whether an employer has fulfilled its obligations towards its employees.

Mitigating risks

Responsibility to take care of your employees applies whether people work in high or low risk environments.  It is likely a court will expect employers to take even further responsibility with those working in higher risk situations.

A report produced by the Security Management Initiative called, Can you get sued? looks at the legal liability within various jurisdictions and provides extremely relevant recommendations.