Can requiring that a job applicant obtain and pay for a passport photo make a U.S. government contractor run afoul of human trafficking rules? Potentially “yes” under a new final rule clarifying what constitutes human trafficking under the Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”).
Since 2015, the U.S. government has prohibited U.S. government contractors from engaging in human trafficking, including charging employees “recruitment fees,” via FAR 52.222-50. Previously, the U.S. government’s prohibition lacked a definition for the term “recruitment fees.” To provide clarity and ensure consistency in implementation of the FAR’s prohibition on human trafficking, effective January 22, 2019, the FAR Council promulgated a final rule which adds a definition of “recruitment fees” to FAR subpart 22.17 and the associated clause at FAR 52.222-50. The final rule expressly identifies various types of fees that contractors, contractor employees, subcontractors, subcontractor employees, and their agents are prohibited from charging employees or potential employees. See Department of Defense, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Federal Acquisition Regulation: Combating Trafficking in Persons—Definition of “Recruitment Fees,” 83 Fed. Reg. 65,466 (Dec. 20, 2018).