Starting the first week of March , federal contractors will be subject to new prohibitions and obligations related to human trafficking. These new requirements stem from a final rule issued January 29, 2015, that significantly strengthens the Federal Acquisition Regulation’s (FAR) existing provisions to prevent trafficking in persons. The new rule goes into effect March 2, 2015, and will apply to all new contracts, as well as future orders under existing indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts.

Prohibitions

The final rule prohibits government contractors and their employees from undertaking certain actions related to:

  • Engaging in severe forms of human trafficking during the period of performance of the contract
  • Procuring commercial sex acts during the period of performance of the contract
  • Using forced labor in the performance of the contract
  • Destroying, concealing, confiscating or otherwise denying employees’ access to identity or immigration documents
  • Engaging in fraudulent or misleading recruitment practices
  • Employing recruiters who violate the labor laws of the country where the recruitment takes place
  • Charging recruiting fees
  • Failing to provide return transportation to an employee who is not a national of the country where the work is to take place, subject to limited exceptions
  • Providing housing, if required, that fails to meet host country safety or housing laws, or
  • Failing to provide a written work document, if required

Contractor Obligations

The new rule also requires government contractors to undertake the following actions to combat trafficking in persons:

  • Inform employees and agents of the human trafficking requirements and the possible repercussions if violations occur
  • Disclose information to the relevant contracting officers concerning human trafficking offenses
  • Cooperate in investigations into human trafficking offenses
  • Protect victims and witnesses of human trafficking offenses

Compliance and Certification

A key component of the new rule is the requirement that certain government contractors implement a compliance plan and certification requirements. If any part of a government contract with an estimated value of more than $500,000 is for supplies acquired overseas or services to be performed overseas, the offeror must certify that: (1) it has implemented an anti-human trafficking compliance plan and procedures to prevent human trafficking violations; and (2) it has performed due diligence on its agents and subcontractors, and taken necessary remedial actions.

Government contractors should review their compliance plans to ensure that they have adequate mechanisms in place to comply with the new rule’s more robust requirements, and to monitor and evaluate the extent to which their suppliers are in compliance with the new requirements. A violation of these regulations may result in suspension of contract payments, termination of a contract, or suspension or debarment, as well as False Claims Act and other liability.