Duty of Care & Relocation: What HR Professionals Need to Know

At its highest level, “duty of care” can be translated into “do no harm.” That, at least, is at the concept’s foundation. At Suddath, though, we go above and beyond that baseline definition, prioritizing client safety and sharing information and helpful resources about how to put duty of care into action.

This post will focus on how human resource (HR) professionals can incorporate duty of care into the actions they take when arranging employee relocations. If you’re ready to outsource corporate moving to a time-tested company, please contact us online or call (888) 903-7695.

What is Duty of Care?

The concept of duty of care means that businesses must act in reasonable ways to protect their employees from potential harm. Although this isn’t a new idea that employers should ensure the health, safety, and well-being of the employees they are relocating, how that’s defined can evolve in broad ways (needing to update protocols during COVID, for example) and in individual ways, such as designing employee relocation policies with the well-being of the employee’s whole family in mind.

In a legal sense, this requires companies and individuals to use the degree of attention and caution that a reasonable person in the same circumstance would use. When that happens, it can be said that they’ve met the standard of care.

Connection to Employee Relocation

When relocating employees, a first step often involves offering them a relocation package that is designed in ways to safeguard the employees, health-wise and safety-wise. This can include mental health with a focus on stress reduction serving as an example of fulfilling this type of duty of care as an employer.

For many employers, offering a household goods moving benefit is important, even if other moving expenses are managed as a lump sum payment.  That’s because professional packing and loading by trained movers prevents lost-time injuries for employees. There’s less stress as well.  At Suddath, for example, we use well-trained teams to pack an employee’s belongings; load them on a truck; hand them off throughout the chain of custody; and then unload and unpack them in the employee’s new home. Relocating employees and their household goods are protected along the way.

Fulfilling a duty of care obligation as an HR professional can vary by circumstance. For example, a move within the United States may have fewer items on checklists than an international move. That’s because an overseas move, for example, would require the HR team to ensure that the employee will have healthcare coverage throughout the transition and then in the new country.

With international moves, duty of care responsibilities for HR professionals can include arranging destination services or language lessons and information about cultural differences between the employee’s country of origin and the one where they will move.

When an employee will work in a location or position that comes with more risk, then this will require a greater duty of care to ensure their safety and that of their family. This can include appropriate training sessions, insights into how to respond to risky events, and so forth.

COVID-19 brought health considerations into choices around employee relocation, an area that was previously more focused on safety and its role in duty of care obligations. This can include considerations about the ways an employee and their family travels to their new home, any local restrictions they should consider (especially if different from where the employee currently lives), and places in the new location to seek medical care, if needed.

Most of the information in this section refers to long distance moves, but duty of care is a concept you want to incorporate into employee relocation plans with moves of any size and distance—so plan accordingly.

Strategies for Employers

Because a good percentage of the strategies for employees will need to be implemented and monitored by HR professionals, this is a checklist that your HR team can modify as needed and use:

  • Provide the employee with information about the new location—meaning, both the workplace site and the surrounding geography at their destination. This would include any pertinent risk factors, the language spoken, the schools and their ratings/quality, cultural differences, and more.
  • Determine what steps must be taken to continue to provide the employee and their family with healthcare insurance and to connect them with appropriate medical care providers. When the healthcare system will be significantly different from what the employee is used to, provide information about how it works in the new location.
  • When different currencies will be used in the new location, provide the employee with information about the new kind and how it compares to the currency being used by the employee. Assist in setting up new bank accounts, if this help is needed, and with safely transferring funds. Also consider credit and debit card usage and how it might change.
  • Provide language courses, as needed, along with practical information about different traditions. This can range from available foods, which might be important to a vegan who is moving to a country where it could be harder to get certain ingredients, to driving on the opposite side of the road and following different traffic laws. Will plugs on computers and other electronic devices need to be modified?
  • Consider how to provide seamless communication from origin to destination. Beyond assisting with local connectivity such as arranging local SIM cards, help your employee with data privacy issues with their devices.

If you need the support of a full suite of global mobility services, our sister company, Sterling Lexicon, offers end-to-end mobility solutions tailored to your business goals. 

Building Duty of Care into Relocation Policies

At Suddath, we focus on whole family care, supporting everyone’s health and safety in all types and sizes of moves. For example, no matter the size of the employee relocation, we provide professional packing and loading services: this helps to eliminate any injuries that could occur if the employee took on these tasks while also reducing any time needed away from work during the process.

Although these services are standard for international moves and with full service relocations, it’s possible at Suddath with smaller shipments when using a containerized approach. Our professional moving team would pack your employee’s belongings to international standards and load them on containers for them.

Other ways in which we provide whole family care include the following, among others:

  • Advice for moving with children
  • Advice for moving with pets
  • Cultural orientation guidance for all family members in an international move

Choosing the Right Relocation Partners

When comparing corporate moving companies for employee relocations, you’ll want to find one that fully exercises duty of care for employee safety and wellbeing while easing the burden on your HR team—and that perfectly describes Suddath.

When comparing corporate moving companies to relocate your employees, here are steps to take:

  • Look at their website to see what relocation services they offer. Do they match what you need? If so, put them on your list.
  • Ask other professionals who have provided relocation packages to employees, including members of your HR team who worked at other companies, for recommendations. What did they like about these corporate relocation companies? Do they have any concerns about the moving companies they’ve used?
  • Check to see how long each moving company has been in business. With employee relocation services, experience counts. (Suddath’s answer: more than a century.)
  • Ask how they communicate with employees throughout the relocation. Will there be a single point of contact? What technologies enhance the process?
  • For corporate relocation companies that make your short list, ask for and check references.

Suddath for Your Employee Relocation Company

Benefits of choosing Suddath as your corporate relocation company include our deep and wide quality services. With more than thirty locations and regional headquarters around the globe and a century-plus of experience and financial stability, we’re here to stay. We offer competitive, transparent pricing and provide unbeatable resources to help your company, overall, as well as your HR department and employees who are moving. To get started with your relocation services, please contact us online or call (888) 903-7695.