Duty of care is not optional

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This week threw up a huge contradiction in business leadership after it was revealed that 83% of business owners agree with the statement that staff wellbeing and business performance are linked, yet less than half actually believe that their business has a duty of care towards employee health.

This is not in keeping with the technical definition of duty of care, which is a legal obligation for employers referring to adherence to a reasonable care while performing acts that could endanger staff. At the very basic level, businesses are expected to comply with health and safety regulation, as well as an ethical duty to stop employees suffering either psychological or physical injuries.

Failure to comply with the duty could prove very costly in fines and penalties.

When business leader were quizzed on their HR priorities over the next twelve months, the duty of care obligation was low on their agenda, with very few businesses investing their resource into improving their employees’ work-life balance. Only 6% of business leaders questioned identified improving duty of care as a central component of their HR strategy. Instead their focus was on:

  • Attracting better talent
  • Reducing staff turnover
  • Reducing staff costs

The above can all be categorised into value-adds from a strategic point of view; however often the biggest value to your business is not found outside the business but within it, working day-after-day to keep the business on the path to success.

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