12. Staff well-being


  • The safety and security of staff always takes precedence above all other factors.
  • Manage work hours effectively to avoid burn-out in the early stages of the emergency.
  • Put in place an R&R policy.
  • Ensure staff has access to psychological support services, particularly after any critical incident.

CARE’s guiding principle is that the safety and security of CARE staff always takes precedence above all other factors. The security risks for emergency staff are ever-increasing, given the hazardous nature of humanitarian emergencies. Refer to Chapter 14 Safety and security policy, and seek advice from the safety and security officer in all key HR-related decisions and during the orientation process.

Work hours can become very intensive for emergency staff, particularly in the first phase of an emergency. Work hours must be managed carefully when starting up emergency operations, to avoid exhaustion and manage the safety and well-being of staff. It is recommended that COs put in place a rotation system during the initial emergency period to ensure all staff has one day off a week. Once operations have stabilised, the CO must ensure they return to regular leave practices and entitlements applied to staff.

A rest and relaxation (R&R) policy provides for mandatory time away from the emergency environment for national and international staff during the period of their assignment to the emergency location. All emergency staff must receive adequate rest to manage the demands of an intense emergency response operation. The CO must formulate an R&R policy appropriate to the country location and emergency environment within three weeks of operation. See Annex 21.38 CARE Sri Lanka amended time off in lieu policy, for an example of a Country Office leave policy amended during an emergency operation.

The R&R entitlements for qualifying national staff may provide for transport to the staff member’s home of record for a specified number of days (including travel time) at full salary agreed by the Country Director.

The R&R entitlements for qualifying international staff may include:

  • a number of days leave based on the demands of the emergency operation and living environment
  • a leave period that also allocates travel time to reach the designated R&R location
  • an R&R location that fully removes the staff members from the emergency location
  • securing the safety and security of emergency staff at all times.

For international staff, an R&R policy may include a lump sum payment to cover travel expenses, and a per diem rate to cover food and accommodation costs. The amount of per diem provided during R&R may need to be different from the standard per diem rate usually provided within the country. If the place of R&R is a location covered by another CO, the per diem rates used by that CO may be used. If it is a location not known to any CO, the sending CO will need to use the guidelines in Annex 21.36 Per diem and travel policy guidelines, to determine the appropriate per diem rates for R&R. These payments must be approved by the Country Director (or delegate) and are administered by the CO Finance Manager.

It is crucial that international staff members are covered by adequate insurance provisions during the period of travel to the R&R location. The CO must advise National Members of the R&R destination and dates of travel. National Members must consult with insurance providers to ensure full cover is provided for international staff.

The R&R policy must be reviewed regularly, and can be adjusted or discontinued if conditions improve and the stress factors subside.

Annex 21.39      R&R policy template/national staff
Annex 21.40      R&R policy template/international staff

Staff members deployed to an emergency response operation is confronted with significant stress factors beyond those normally experienced at work. National Members are responsible for ensuring that international staff deployed to the field is given access to professional counselors before departure, while in the field and on their return home. The CO senior management team, the CO Human Resources Manager and line managers in the field are responsible for monitoring the well-being of staff, ensuring staff know how to access personnel support services and encouraging staff to use them as necessary

A critical incident is an extremely traumatic experience that may affect one or more staff-for example, hostage taking, extreme violence, etc. The CO should take steps to provide culturally appropriate support after critical or traumatic incidents. This may include standing arrangements (on an as-needed basis) with local or regional psychological specialists. Where a CO may access such professional support, each Member has a separate service provider to ensure that professional standards are fully met for delivering psychosocial welfare. Full details are found in Annex 21.41 Emergency personnel support programme/critical incidents. Contact details for the respective Member service providers are as follows

Member Program Contact Notes
CARE USA Employee Assistance Program (EAP) CIGNA Global Health  

FREEPHONE: 1.800.870.5068
WEBSITE: available through www.CignaEnvoy.com
SMS TEXTING: +44 790 934 1229 (standard and international text messaging rates may apply)
EMAIL: globaleap@workplaceoptions.com
When emailing or texting, please include your name, your company, your country location, and the phone number where you can be reached.


This provider covers international staff. National staff can be reimbursed for counselling services through the Chronic and Critical Illness Fund. Contact CARE USA Human Resources for assistance at staffsupport@care.org
CARE Australia EAP service provider is PPC. From Australia – 1300 361 008

From Abroad – +61 3 9658 0025

www.ppconline.info/au  Username: careaust  Password: care2007


The EAP only covers staff either international or Australian based, directly employed by CARE Australia. For national staff, local arrangements need to be set up by the CO itself. Address any queries to the HR unit in Canberra.
CARE Canada EAP services are provided by “Shepell-fgi” Toll-free English/French services:

In North America: 1 888 509-5560

From Outside North America:

Step A: Access your local operator

Step B: Request to place a call to Canada with reverse charges to 905 886-3605

Step C: Once connected to Shepell-fgi, you will be speaking with a professional Intake Counsellor who will request some initial information in order to connect you with the appropriate qualified psychologist in your country, specific to your needs.

Online Appointment request: https://www.shepellfgiservices.com/app/eap/entersite2.asp Username: cdf001
Password: can001

This service is available ONLY to our overseas international staff (not domestic Canada-based staff and not national/local staff who have their own providers or use counsellors on as needed individual basis). Domestic Canada-based employees who are deployed on short-term assignments overseas during emergencies are also eligible to these services prior to their deployment/during and upon return.


CARE International  Services are provided by Headington Institute  Donald S. Bosch, Ph.D.
Director of Clinical Services
Headington Institute
Skype: donbosch
 All staff are requested to have an initial discussion with Don once they are hired; thereafter they should be checking in as often as needed, or at minimum after each deployment.
 CARE UK  Services provided by Simply Health; and for deployment and critical incidents by Interhealth  All staff can call Simply Health at 0800 072 5850.  All staff have access to a confidential counselling service provided by Simply Health. Also offered is support via Interhealth to staff returning from stressful assignments or in case of critical incidents.
 CARE France  Services provided by ACE Europe  Police no. FRBBBA08048
Depuis la France:
Téléphone: 01 40 25 57 25
Télécopie: 01 40 25 52 62
Depuis l’Etranger:
Téléphone: 33 40 25 57 25
Télécopie: 33 1 40 25 52 62
 Pour toute demande d’assistance, références à rappeler obligatoirement: 920 617 / FRBBBA08048

In extreme humanitarian emergencies, there may be significant threats to national staff and their families, and they may turn to CO management for support and assistance. The Country Director, in consultation with the Lead Member’s senior management team, should consider whether any assistance is feasible to support national staff on a case-by-case basis.