Terrorism, Safety and Global HR

The increased threat of terrorism is affecting human resource activities both domestically and abroad. Domestically for instance anecdotal evidence suggests that the new federal antiterrorism laws and procedures are affecting employers’ ability to import and export workers. For example, getting working papers for foreign workers now takes weeks or months instead of days. This is because in most cases, the prospective employee must have an interview at his or her local US Embassy and scheduling these is a relatively time consuming process.

Employers are also facing more resistance from prospective expats. More are reluctant to accept foreign postings and take their families abroad, and those that do are demanding more compensation and for their employees and facilities abroad. Employers have had to institute more comprehensive safety plans including for instance, evacuation plans to get employees to safety if that becomes necessary. Even before 2001, the threats facing expat employees were on the rise. For example the number of overseas kidnappings more than doubled from 830 to 1,728 during mid to late 1990s. Developments like these have already prompted employers to take steps to better protect their expat employees.

Taking Protective Measures

Employers are doing so in variety of ways. Many employers retain crisis management teams’ services. They then call on these crisis management teams, for instance when they receive notice that criminal elements have kidnapped one of their expats or threatened the person with harm unless a ransom is paid. As one insurance executive puts it, when you have a specialist there’s a better chance to get the person back. You want specialists in there because you don’t want the employee coming home in a body bag.

Kidnapping and ransom (K&R) Insurance:

Hiring crisis teams and paying ransoms can be prohibitively expensive for all but the largest firms, so many employers buy kidnapping and ransom (K&R) insurance. Any one or more of several events may trigger payments under such policies .The obvious ones are kidnapping (for instance the employee is a hostage until the employer pays a ransom) extortion. (threatening bodily harm) and detention holding an employee without any ransom demand), other triggering events include threats to property or products unless the employer makes a payment

The insurance itself typically covers several costs associated with kidnapping abductions or extortion attempts. The costs might include for instance hiring a crisis team, the actual cost of the ransom payment to the kidnapers or extortionists ensuring the ransom money in case it’s lost in transit legal expenses and employee death or dismemberment.

Keeping business travelers out of crime’s way is a specialty. All its own but suggestions here includes:

1) Provide expatriates with general training about traveling living abroad, and the place they’re going to, so they’re more oriented when they get there.
2) Tell them not to draw attention to the fact that they’re Americans – by wearing flag emblems or by using American cars, for instance,
3) Have travelers arrive at airports as close to departure time as possible and wait in areas away from the main flow of traffic where they’re not easily observed.
4) Equip the expatriate’s car and home with adequate security systems.
5) Tell employees to vary their departure and arrival times and take different routes to and from work.
6) Keep employees current on crime and other problems by regularly checking, for example; the state department’s travel advisory service and consular information sheets. (http: //travel .state.gov/ travel_warnings.html)
7) Advise employees to remain confident at all times Body language can attract perpetrators and those who look like victims often become victimized.