Employers who routinely deploy staff in world trouble spots are being warned to take out adequate cover in case of kidnap and hijacking.

But employers are often unaware of the perils of even the most simple business trip abroad, says law firm Berrymans Lace and Mawer (BLM).

A legal loophole means there is no duty on employers to become involved in the welfare of their staff if they are abducted, unless they are specifically bound by contract.

As Penny Lewis of BLM said: "While it is satisfying to think that our employers would do everything they could to get us out of a foreign fix, they do not actually have to unless contracts of employment specifically mention the fact."

More seriously, the 'doctrine of frustration' in contracts says that if employees cannot perform their duties, regardless of whether they have been kidnapped, their contract of employment may become void.

Lewis added employers should ensure they have good insurance cover. Otherwise they could suffer a blow to their reputation and also face being sued by staff if they come to harm while working in a foreign country.