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Why It’s Time Australian Business Got Serious About ‘Duty of Care’

An employee’s health and safety, not just acts of violence and natural disasters are the reasons companies should get serious about ‘Duty of Care’ and ensure that their travel policies reflect this care.

In 2012, Commonwealth legislation made it legally mandatory for Australian companies to provide a duty of care to all their employees (full-time or contracted) travelling on work-related business.

The case for duty of care has been highlighted by recent acts of violence in Paris and Brussels and a natural disaster in Bali.

However, data provided by International SOS suggests that it is not terrorism that tops the incident list for companies, but more common issues like employee ill-health during travel, opportunistic crime and flight delays.

Incidents related to employee ill-health are of particular interest since they can be easily avoided. Over 30% of such incidents are preventable according to leading travel management publisher,  BTTB Australia.

However, according to the publisher, only 37% of companies look into the health related risks of employees before sanctioning their travel overseas!

An absence of duty of care policy and compliance can prove expensive

To be duty of care compliant, companies should consider doing the following:

  1. Assess individual employee health and fitness to travel annually or in the period just prior to travel
  2. Use a travel company with proven travel expertise  like World Business Travel Sydney, with the ability to provide travellers with travel alerts on security, hazards, special events and routes that may affect their trip pre-travel and whilst travelling
  3. Develop a travel policy with built in compliance to ensure employees are only permitted to book airlines, hotels and vehicles that comply to the required registration, health and safety regulations
  4. Consider a technology that allows them to locate where travellers are, and that has the ability to make contact with them should the need arise
  5. Do everything possible to have their travelling staff aware of safety and event related matters at destinations they are travelling to – drinking water, food, sanitation, airport closures etc.
  6. Consider engaging specialist medical and event evacuation service organisations that protect employees overseas and mitigate risk

Duty of care arrangements should be regularly checked and assessed by travel professionals

With over 40 years experience in corporate travel management, World Business Travelhas expertise in travel few can match.

Many of Australia’s leading companies have been assisted on their travel policies, helping them implement travel policies that  are compliant with meeting their business objectives

If you have questions regarding your policy, or its compliance, we welcome you to contact our Director of Sales:

You can learn more about Government regulations in this regard here at

How not to embarrass yourself, or your company, at your next business lunch with your Chinese clients


Chinese culture goes back centuries. It is as rich with tradition, as it is, with seafood broth!

Knowing what to say – and do – at a luncheon event is key to making it a success.

In this article, the team at World Business Travel look at food culture, and etiquette too, and give you some tips we’ve crowdsourced from the Chinese themselves, to help you excel at it!

  Tip 1- “it’s ok to ‘leave a little’ on your plate”

In western culture, it is considered rude not to finish everything that’s on your plate.

It’s part of the post-war hangover we all suffer from – during world war II, food was in such short supply, that Prime Minister, Churchill made it illegal to waste it.

In Chinese culture, however, finishing all that is on your plate, in this day and age of bounty, may send the wrong signal to your client.

What this may suggest to the host is that they have not fed you enough.

When at a Chinese banquet, or meal hosted by a Chinese client, always make it an aim to ‘leave a little’ on your plate, therefore. It suggests to the host that their meal, and hospitality, has been well-received and acknowledged.

  Tip 2 – “Don’t point fingers”

Excellent advice, no matter what culture you’re operating within, it’s important to note that the Chinese, in particular, take exception to having fingers pointed at them.

If you’re in a restaurant, gesture using your hand, not your finger.

Don’t whistle, snap your fingers, or show the soles of your shoes at any time. It is considered impolite and may not be positively looked upon by the party you’re with.

  Tip 3 – “Understand FACE, and be sure to extend it too”

The Chinese belief in Mianzi, or FACE, is very strong and can make or break a relationship – and therefore, a deal.

FACE is about understanding feelings, and ensuring you respect them. No-one likes to have their internal flaws or failures exposed, so be sure never to, and especially not at an event like a business lunch.

If you are lucky enough to be invited to a meal clearly hosted by your Chinese client, avoid the temptation to help settle the bill. It inadvertently suggests to your host that they cannot afford to pay for the meal.

During introductions at a meal, or other business or social function, stand up and offer a firm handshake while making full eye-contact.

Some Chinese may nod, or bow, slightly. Do exchange business cards, but present and receive cards face-up with both hands, followed by the more standard ‘pleased to meet you’ or ‘ni hao ma’ in mandarin.

Take a few minutes to read the card, to indicate interest in the person, before placing the card on the table in front of you, with CARE.

Tip 4- “the most important thing to do during lunch is enjoy it”

Guangxi (pronounced guanshi) literally means ‘relationships.’

Food governs relationships, even grants them, one might add, as long as one understands cultural and food norms – and follows them.

During a Chinese banquet, sample all the dishes on offer. Take care not to stick your chopsticks standing up in the rice, as this symbolizes death; be sure, also, not to arrange dishes in a single line, as it also reminds people of death.

Always let the host start the meal, this gives FACE to his position at the event, and it is more likely to make it a successful one for yourself.

Tip 5 – “return a toast if you are fortunate enough to be made one”

The Chinese are no teetotallers, and will frequently raise toasts to foreign business partners.

If you are fortunate enough to have a toast raised to you, be sure to reciprocate it.

Toasting is common practice, and is referred to as isgan bei, meaning ‘dry cup’ or ‘bottoms up.’

Ideal toasts centre around friendship, cooperation and pledges to work for mutual –collective – rather than individual benefit.

The true wealth of the Chinese people does not lie in business

It lies in culture.

Understand Chinese culture, and what you will understand is how you can tap into it, in a way that is not just individually beneficial, but collectively so, too.

From the team at World Business Travel, Xiangshou, and we hope you’ve had as much fun reading this article as we’ve had writing it!

World Business Travel gratefully acknowledges the role our China correspondent, Ms Clarissa Ng has played in the curation of this exclusive piece for our clients.

So take the first step to better manage your travel:
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