Preparing for your first contract overseas?
Civilian contractor jobs overseas bring a lot of excitement and experience to one’s career. You are working in a foreign country, with the military, on projects that could make a difference in the world.
For many, becoming an overseas civilian contractor is the next logical step as retired military. For others, it is the lure of adventure, high pay that overseas jobs provide, and a desire to help our country that convinces them to go. And still, for many others, it is the desire to help make a difference in the world through contracting for public works or foreign assistance.
There are many opportunities available for those who want to work overseas as a civilian employee or contractor. However, with those opportunities come unique risks that need to be adequately prepared for and understood before signing the dotted line on your employment contract. Still, even if you’ve already signed and are aware of the risks, you should make the necessary preparations in case anything should happen to you while working overseas.
Understanding your contract
Whether you’ve already signed on the dotted line or not, you need to review your employment contract carefully. The contract contains the terms of your employment, and it may include a section on liability for both the contract company and yourself. You need to know where your liability begins and where the liability of your contract employer ends. Knowing this information before you suffer an accident/injury could help in your case should your employer be liable for medical costs and compensation.
Along with your contract, you should also review any safety guidelines and job responsibilities. Both of these guides are intended to help keep you safe and make sure that you do not work outside your contract. Again, knowing this information will help prevent any injury. However, there is no amount of precaution you can take while working in a war zone that will protect you from war hazards like IED explosions, rocket attacks, etc. Aside from those specific war hazards, other more common accidents do happen, regardless of how careful you are and well you follow the guidelines. This might include a trip and fall accident, etc. Should you get injured while fulfilling your contract duties, you should be eligible for compensation benefits. If you become injured because you were not following safety guidelines or you were performing work outside your contract scope, your workers’ compensation insurance carrier could dispute your claim for compensation on those grounds. Knowing this information protects you and your rights should the worse happen. However, under the Defense Base Act (DBA), you should be covered so long as you are in the “zone of special danger” even if you are not working when injured.
Understand the risk you are taking
Civilian contractor jobs overseas are not the same as civilian jobs in the United States. Even if you are a civilian working on military bases, your job presents risks that are unique and need to be understood fully. Risks to personal safety are especially high in hot spots such as a war zone or ground zero for a natural disaster. If you’re a security contractor, you’ll be at the same risk as a soldier stationed in such areas as Afghanistan or Iraq. Although performing different duties, both military and civilian contractors often have the same types of risks if they work in the same area.
Before you sign your contract or before you leave for your post, you need to review these risks and dangers carefully and take the necessary precautions to protect yourself. This is especially important if you have loved ones that you are leaving: review life insurance policies, wills, death benefits, and injury benefits. Make sure that both you and your spouse or children, and qualified dependents, know what to do should the worst happen to you.
You should also ask yourself if you’re prepared to manage those risks of danger, and also how to prepare. Does your contract employer have guidelines? Can you speak with other contractors and find out how they prepared? If something should happen to you, have you prepared your loved ones?