Duty of care means the legal responsibility of a person to ensure the safety of others from facing any harm while they are under his/her care. It also means avoiding showing any harmful behaviour or behaviour which implies that you have the potential to harm another. For example, in a hospital or medical center, doctors should practice duty of care towards the patients. It means that a doctor is responsible to ensure the safety of the patient he/she is treating by giving proper treatment along with keeping the patient aware about important information related to the dangers or side-effects of prescribed drugs, disclosing potential risks associated with the treatment, giving health warnings, and so on. Similarly in a manufacturing unit, it is the responsibility of the manufacturer to let the consumers know about the dangers and side-effects of the product he/she is manufacturing.
In a workplace, duty of care means a legal obligation that an employer has for the well-being of the employees. In any organization, the primary responsibility for the successful implementation of duty of care lies on the employer. The employer must ensure that people at the workplace feel safe and secured. This responsibility should not only be imparted towards employees but also towards visitors. However, the laws surrounding it for a workplace might differ from one jurisdiction to another. But, this does not imply that the main idea behind the phrase duty of care will change according to jurisdictions. The primary definition still stays the same no matter which part of the world your organization is located in. Apart from employers, duty of care should be followed by employees too. It means employees should also ensure the safety of the people around them, in the organization, by always showing the best behavior and interest. Even the managers must implement duty of care. Doing so can prove to be fruitful for the entire team and the organization. Managers should ensure the safety and well-being of the team members, site visitors, and even the customers. This can prove to be a crucial factor in boosting productivity and efficiency of the staff. It can even improve staff retention by building trust.
If an employer fails to implement duty of care in the workplace, it can have serious consequences. For example, in an unforeseen event, an employee can suffer serious injuries and in worst cases, it can become life-threatening too. Also, as it is a legal obligation, failure to implement it can invite penalties from the government regulators. Employees or family members of an employee can also sue the company for negligence if an employee becomes the victim of any issue resulting from not imparting duty of care. If any of the consequences take place, it can tarnish the reputation of the organization, resulting in the loss of employees and business. If your company does not have a good reputation due to the callous treatment provided to the employees, then it might also get difficult to retain the old employees and to hire new ones. This can even affect your company’s relation with the stakeholders and external partners.
If as an employer, you are keen on implementing your duty of care responsibility in your workplace and ensuring its success, then these are some of the points which you should check:
- Communicate company policies in a clear way
You must create a policy that explains the obligations that you should adhere to with respect to duty of care. You must also outline the responsibilities of the employees and how they should maintain the decorum of the workplace without participating in any form of violence or bullying.
- Provide adequate training to your staff
Workplace safety and training should be a crucial part of your agenda. Employees should be trained on procedures related to evacuation and so on. Apart from delivering training, you must also conduct mock drills as a part of the safety procedure. This way, employees will be aware of the safety procedures that they must follow and execute if/when needed.
- Invest in resources to ensure employees’ good health
You can invest in a health insurance policy that offers added benefits for employees. For example, if you opt for the Cigna health care policy, your employees will have access to tools that can promote good health and well-being. They can access clinical programs, international employee assistance programs, and so on. Employees can take the help of such platforms to learn about ways on how one can reduce stress, maintain work-life balance, etc. Such benefits will ensure that your employees are content and happy. This will in turn enhance their productivity too.
Apart from the above, you can even ensure that your workforce is not overworked. You can even provide constructive feedback, channels through which employees can raise their concerns, offer protection to employees from gender-related issues, racism, and so on. By applying the correct measures, you can implement duty of care in your workplace and benefit your employees and your organization.