What are an employer's responsibilities to an employee on a work assignment abroad who becomes stranded due to political violence or rioting in the area?

An employer is under a duty to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of its employees and to provide a safe place and system of work. These duties exist under both the common law and statute and a failure to comply may result in both civil and criminal liability. This duty will extend to employees who are travelling abroad for business purposes.

In light of these duties, where an employee becomes stranded due to violence or rioting, the employer should take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of its employee. In practical terms, this will include taking advice from the Foreign Office and the local embassy or consulate about any measures that it can take to safeguard or repatriate the employee. The employer should also keep in regular contact with its employee and ensure that, as far as reasonably practicable, it provides him or her with any assistance requested.