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Duty of care - Legal or moral?

9 March 2017

By Christine Williamson, International Duty of Care Consultant.

Most organisations understand they have a legal duty of care towards their employees. But what does this really mean? And why do we talk about a moral duty of care?

Using the simple stick and carrot concept…

Employers have a legal duty of care to ensure the health, safety and well-being of their employees.

However, demonstrating concern for the physical and psychological well-being of your employees shouldn't just be seen as a legal duty - there's a moral duty and a clear business case.

The stick pushes you

In most jurisdictions the legal duty of care, or the stick as I like to call it, looks at the risk and how foreseeable it is; the relationship of proximity between two parties (all staff – whether international, local or volunteers), and whether it is fair, just and reasonable to impose liability.

The carrot motivates you

The carrot, our moral duty of care, should go above and beyond the basic legal requirements. People are your most valuable resource. 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 the reasonable and necessary steps to ensure their health, safety and well-being.

Organisations should practice what they preach – improve the lives of others while ensuring the health of their employees. Prevention is always better than cure!

What drives your organisation - the carrot, the stick or both?