Applying for an overseas job? Have you considered duty of care?

Christine WilliamsonWe’re really pleased to bring you this guest post from Christine Williamson, founder of Duty of Care International, which works with organisations globally to support and protect employees. In this post, Christine advises us of the top ten things you should consider when deciding whether to work for an aid organisation overseas.

We all want to work for organisations who take good care of their employees, but it is a two-way street. Employees need to be able to determine if a potential employer provides appropriate duty of care, know their own responsibilities under duty of care and know when to speak up if there’s a problem.

Duty of care touches upon all stages of the life cycle of the employee – from the hiring process through to leaving the organisation. While many organisations have the foundations for good duty of care practices, prospective employees should be asking some key questions when considering employment – especially when working in high risk environments.

Aid work is notoriously difficult to break into which can lead to people taking risks and working for organisations which do not provide appropriate duty of care, simply to ‘break into’ the industry or ‘get their foot in the door’. This is a dangerous mind-set and you can be putting yourself, and others, in danger by not ensuring there is appropriate care in place for you.

While there are many elements that comprise duty of care, below are the top 10 things which you, as a potential employee considering a job overseas, should consider.

1.     Do your values align with the organisation’s vision, mission, purpose and values?

2.     Do you have a clear employment contract and staff handbook before you start?

3.     Does the organisation provide benefits such as medical and life insurance, medevac, rest and recuperation (time off)?

4.     Is a Health, Safety & Security policy available and do you have access to health and wellbeing services, including physical and psychological support, context specific training, and counselling?

5.     Does the organisation use competency-based interviews and assessments, and have your references been verified? (You want to know you’ll be working alongside appropriately selected colleagues who are equipped to do their role!)

6.     Will you will receive a thorough induction and role specific training including health, safety and security and duty of care training, an organisational structure, and location specific health, safety & security practices at the start of your employment and for each assignment?

7.     Has the organisation shown you the risk assessment for the place you’ll be posted?

8.     Will your performance be appraised and rewarded, and supported by continuous training and development?

9.     Are managers equipped to support their teams on areas of performance, personal development and psychological health and wellbeing?

10.   How are knowledge and lessons learned captured from those who return from assignments?