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Ask the Helpline | Preventing Human Trafficking

Posted on February 20, 2024


My company is a subcontractor. We recently received a letter from one of our primary contractors asking us about our human trafficking policy and any other information we had about the subject. We’re quite unfamiliar with any responsibilities we might have in this area so we are wondering what we should do.  


There’s information available about human trafficking on different national government websites such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor. Much of the information is being coordinated under the umbrella of the Blue Campaign. 

There is also a model policy available from SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) for those who have access to that organization’s resources.  

The Blue Campaign is a national public awareness initiative created in 2010 to educate the public, law enforcement, and other industry partners to recognize the indicators of human trafficking and to respond to possible cases.  The Blue Campaign works closely with DHS to develop awareness training and provides educational resources to help reduce victimization within vulnerable populations. 

Located within the DHS Center for Countering Human Trafficking, the Blue Campaign leverages partnerships with the private sector, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), law enforcement, and state/local authorities to maximize public engagement with anti-human trafficking efforts. The Blue Campaign’s educational awareness objectives consist of two foundational elements: prevention of human trafficking and protection of exploited persons. 

Typically, people are illegally trafficked for sexual or labor-related purposes. In the case of labor trafficking, the use of trafficked individuals as employees results in unfair competition, such as when unscrupulous employers put the victims to work and avoid paying legal wages or any wages. Human trafficking practices also result in the evasion of other business costs such as workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, taxes, and other employment costs.  

Human trafficking is not a new problem, and the federal government has made efforts to address and prevent it that predate the Blue Campaign. The federal government’s efforts to enforce laws against human trafficking are rooted in the thirteenth amendment to the Constitution, which was ratified in 1865 to abolish slavery.  

In 2000, the federal government initiated a more coordinated and focused approach by passing the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). The TVPA focused on what are collectively known as the 3 P’s: protection, prevention, and prosecution.  Since that time, measures have been put in place to address this ongoing problem on all three of these fronts. 

As a result of these initiatives, many primary contractors will ask their subcontractors what steps, if any, they have taken to prevent and stop human trafficking. One common (and easy) measure that employers can take is to post information in the workplace about what to do if someone believes human trafficking is taking place and direct them to the agency to which it should be reported. A poster is available from the Department of Homeland Security. 

The Federal Acquisition Rule (FAR) requires contractors and subcontractors who have procurement contracts with the federal government to notify government procurement personnel whenever they receive credible information about human trafficking or evidence of the prohibited practices associated with trafficking. The rule puts parties on notice that federal agencies may impose remedies, up to and including suspension and debarment, for failure to comply with the requirements. The FAR prohibits subject employers from participating in a variety of prohibited activities such as trafficking in persons and using recruiters who do not comply with local labor laws. 

The FAR rule also requires compliance plans for all contracts that exceed $550,000 and are performed overseas. Each year, contractors that meet that description are required to certify that they have implemented a plan to prevent any of the prohibited activities and to monitor, detect, and terminate any subcontract where a subcontractor is found to be engaging in prohibited activities. Each employer’s compliance plan must include the following: 

  • An awareness program to inform contractor employees about the policy prohibiting trafficking-related activities. 
  • A process for employees to report, without fear of retaliation, activity inconsistent with the FAR. 
  • A recruitment and wage plan that only permits the use of recruitment companies with trained employees, prohibits charging recruitment fees to employees and ensures that wages meet applicable host-country legal requirements or explains any variance. 
  • A housing plan, if the contractor provides or arranges housing, to ensure that housing meets host-country housing and safety standards. 
  • Procedures to prevent agents and subcontractors at any tier and at any dollar value from engaging in trafficking in persons and to monitor, detect, and terminate any agents or subcontractors that have engaged in such activities. 

Non-compliance with this regulation can result in a contractor’s suspension or debarment. 

Massachusetts efforts  

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is also involved in a significant effort to identify and prevent human trafficking. The Attorney General’s office is leading the effort and has created a task force to coordinate the Commonwealth’s response 

AIM members interested in learning more about this or any other human-resource issue may call the AIM HR helpline at 800-470-6277.