SME health and safety tips for expats on assignment

September 22, 2020

If you are a small business, you are may have fewer resources to dedicate to this area.  A study by Eurofound showed you are not alone, SME’s across the EU faced similar struggles with OHS

If you are in the process of expanding your SME overseas and are hoping to send employees on expat assignment, there are health and safety repercussions to consider. These will vary significantly by industry but there are some steps you can take to keep you on the right side of OHS regulations:

There is a lot of information about health and safety policy and procedure online. Ensure you have the correct information for your jurisdiction by using your own government websites as a source. They should have comprehensive information on: 

  • Duty of care as an employer
  • Policy requirements
  • Training requirements
  • Inspections
  • Some guidance on employees travelling for work

In addition, some government websites have templates for policy documents that make compliance easier.  

When planning an expat assignment, conduct a thorough risk assessment of the potential dangers your expat employee may face while overseas including:

  • Political instability
  • Differing local laws/culture
  • Illness 
  • Crime

Also assess any unique dangers in their working environment that your employee may need to be cognisant of. 

Then outline how your company will mitigate these issues through:

The EU estimate the cost of work related accidents to employers to be in the region of €3.8 billion per annum.  Having comprehensive insurance for expat employees will ensure they have access to help if they need it and protects your business from the often-high costs of illness or accident overseas. As a minimum, provide your employee with international health insurance for SMEs so they can access the best healthcare available on their assignment should they become ill. Depending on the location, you may also wish to look into employer’s liability or risk insurance too.

Natural disasters like extreme weather, earthquakes and volcanos could pose a risk to your employee while they are overseas. Research the kind of events that have been known to happen in their destination country and have a plan in place to evacuate them if needs be. Encourage your employee to stay up to date with local news to ensure you have as much forewarning as possible if an event is going to occur. 


There really is a lot to think about when it comes to helping an employee prepare for their assignment overseas, particularly if you are a small business. Protect your employees while they travel on expat assignment or for business with our international health insurance for SME’s so they can access medical treatment around the world. With our modular international healthcare plans for small and medium sized businesses you can build your plan to suit the needs of your employees and your budget.