Employer Policies

Whether your organization creates software, runs hotel properties, manages members, or governs a municipality, it can make an impact to prevent sex trafficking and sex buying within its operations. The following is a list for choosing which best practices to adopt.

Policies*

BEST can help your organization build inclusive workplace policies designed to promote a culture that takes a stand against human trafficking and other exploitation.
An organization has two options:
         (A) Create one central policy addressing all activities that are prohibited.
         (B) Address sex trafficking and sex buying within existing policies.

One Central Policy

Update company handbooks or internal policies to make clear what activities are prohibited. Consult with an attorney to consider restrictions that can be imposed on contractors or consultants to prevent prohibited activities from occurring in your place of business or in connection with services performed for your organization.

POLICY LANGUAGE

Prohibiting Human Trafficking and Exploitation: Our organization condemns all forms of human trafficking, sex buying, forced labor, and prohibited child labor, as described below.  We will take disciplinary action, up to and including immediate termination, for any violation of this policy.

Human Trafficking: Human trafficking includes both labor trafficking and sex trafficking, as defined below, and is strictly prohibited:  
(1) Labor trafficking involves recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion, for involuntary labor or services; and
(2) Sex trafficking involves inducing a commercial sex act by force, fraud or coercion, or causing someone under age 18 to perform a commercial sex act.  
This prohibition on sex trafficking includes any form of commercial sexual exploitation, which means the use of a person or circumstance (such as systemic discrimination; poverty; prior victimization or trauma; substance abuse or addiction; lack of housing, education, healthcare, or any other basic need; or vulnerability) to compel another person to enter or remain in the sex trades.  

Sex Buying Activities: It is strictly prohibited for any employee to engage in any sex buying activities of any kind during company time, while working on company business, or while engaged in any work-related activities (including during business travel) or using any company properties or resources whatsoever (including, without limitation, company credit cards, expense accounts, buildings, parking lots, grounds, equipment, computers, storage devices, software, websites, social media channels, networks, vehicles, and phones).  This prohibition applies regardless of whether the activity is legal or tolerated in a particular jurisdiction, foreign or domestic.

Forced Labor: All work must be voluntary, and any form of forced labor is strictly prohibited, including but not limited to debt bondage, indentured servitude, prison labor, slave labor, compulsory labor, and other involuntary labor or services.  In addition, retention of identity or immigration documents, withholding of food or shelter, restriction of workers’ movement, threats and intimidation, violence, abusive conditions, deceit or false promises to induce work, and failure to pay minimum wages are often associated with forced labor and are also strictly prohibited as part of this prohibition on forced labor.

Child Labor: No one under the age of 18 shall be employed or otherwise permitted to perform work, except as set forth in this paragraph.  If the law of the jurisdiction where the work is being performed allows employment of workers ages 14, 15, 16 or 17, those workers may be engaged to perform only those occupations and tasks that they are permitted by law to perform, during only those hours that they are permitted by law to work.  All legal requirements relating to their employment (including, but not limited to, requirements for break time, restrictions on the total number of hours or days they may work, provision of personal protective equipment, requirements for work permits, and related recordkeeping) must be strictly observed.  No worker under the age of 18 in any jurisdiction shall be permitted to perform any hazardous work, including any work designated as a hazardous occupation in the U.S. Department of Labor regulations at 29 C.F.R. Part 570, Subpart E.  Employment or work by a minor under the age of 18, even where permitted by applicable law, shall be prohibited when it is detrimental to the health, safety, education, or wellbeing of the minor.

In this policy, restate or incorporate by reference your organization’s policies and procedures on reporting, non-retaliation, and disciplinary action. Samples of such policies are provided below.

EXAMPLE

King County: Purpose: King County is committed to equity and social justice, which includes demonstrating the value of basic human life. Knowing that people, particularly women and girls of color, are the victims of human trafficking, the County’s ESJ commitment includes standing against sexual exploitation, including sex trafficking and buying sex. Sex trafficking and buying sex creates a greater demand for human trafficking victims and results in an increase in the number of children and young people trafficked into commercial sex slavery. This policy has been developed to reinforce the County’s existing policies and rules regarding employee conduct and, to support the County’s overall commitment to ending human trafficking.
Policy: King County is ultimately measured by the conduct of those who work on its behalf. For that reason, King County’s policies and practices already require its employees to demonstrate the highest standards of ethics and personal integrity. Sexual exploitation and/or sexual abuse, which include the act of buying sex, will not be tolerated.

Click here for the full King County Policy

Travel

Prohibit the purchase of sexual services or sex trafficking while traveling as a representative of the organization.


POLICY LANGUAGE

While traveling on business for the company, employees are prohibited from engaging in any sex buying activities of any kind or participating in sex trafficking activities in any way.

EXAMPLE

King County: Under the county travel, meal, and expense policy (PER 17-1-3 (AEP)), employees are prohibited from buying sex on county expense accounts or while travelling on county business.

Entertainment & Business Expense

Prohibit the use of business expense accounts for the purchase of sexual services.

POLICY LANGUAGE

Employees are prohibited from using corporate credit cards or expense accounts or from submitting expense reimbursements in any manner related to sex buying activities.

Work Time

Prohibit the use of work time to purchase sexual services or participate in sex trafficking activities.

POLICY LANGUAGE:

Employees are prohibited from engaging in any sex buying or sex trafficking activities of any kind during company work time, while working on company business, or while engaged in any work-related activities.

Work Properties

Prohibit the use of work properties (including buildings, grounds, computers, vehicles, and phones) to purchase sexual services or to facilitate human trafficking, forced labor, or child labor activities.

POLICY LANGUAGE

Employees are prohibited from using any company or work properties or resources whatsoever (including, without limitation, buildings, parking lots, grounds, computers, storage devices, software, websites, social media channels, networks, vehicles, and phones) to engage in or facilitate any sex buying, human trafficking, forced labor, or child labor activities.

EXAMPLES

Amazon: “It is against Amazon’s policy for any employee or Contingent Worker to engage in any sex buying activities of any kind in Amazon’s workplace or in any work-related setting outside of the workplace, such as during business trips, business meetings or business-related social events. When Amazon suspects that an employee has used company funds or resources to engage in criminal conduct, the company will immediately investigate and take appropriate action up to and including termination. The company may also refer the matter to law enforcement.”

Simon Corporation: “Computers and computer networks provided by the Company to employees should not be used to knowingly, recklessly, or maliciously post, store, transmit, view, download, or distribute any abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, or pornographic materials of any kind constituting a criminal offense, giving rise to civil liability, or otherwise violating any laws or Company policy.”

Carlson: “All Directors, Officers, Supervisors, and Employees shall not engage in any activities of any kind related to Human Trafficking and the Sexual Exploitation of Children* during company time, while working on company business, or while engaged in any work-related activities (including during business travel), or using any company or work properties or resources whatsoever (including, without limitation, company credit cards, expense accounts, buildings, parking lots, grounds, equipment, computers, storage devices, software, websites, social media channels, networks, vehicles, and phones). This prohibition applies regardless of whether the activity is legal in a particular jurisdiction, foreign or domestic.”

*Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Children are defined within the full policy.



Reporting Policies & Procedures

Clarify the process for employees to report suspected, planned, or actual violations.  If possible, enable employees to self-report through an existing hotline or Employee Assistance Program; ensure that counselors who receive those reports are trained.  Include a commitment not to retaliate against employees who report or participate in investigations.

POLICY LANGUAGE

Reporting Policy: Employees are required to report any potential or suspected violation of this policy that comes to their attention and to participate fully in any investigation or resolution of any such violation.  Failure to report any potential or suspected violation by any employee violates company policy and constitutes grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including immediate termination of employment.

Non-Retaliation Policy: Our organization strictly prohibits retaliation against any employee for making a good faith report of any potential or suspected violation of our policies against human trafficking, sex buying, forced labor, and child labor activities or for cooperating in an investigation of any such violation.

Commitment to Act Policy: Our organization takes seriously all reports of potential or suspected violations of our policies against human trafficking, sex buying, forced labor, and child labor, and we will promptly investigate all non-frivolous reports and take appropriate remedial action based on our findings.   

EXAMPLES

Manpower Group:
Reporting
: “We believe working with integrity and treating each other with respect fosters a culture that encourages innovation and helps all to be successful. We must report, as soon as possible, any activity that is suspected to be unlawful, fraudulent, or unethical.”

Process for employees to report: “(a) Talk to your supervisor, manager, local compliance officer, or ManpowerGroup’s Global Ethics Compliance Officer; (b) Use the business ethics hotline; (c) Contact the Global Ethics Compliance Officer and Assistant to the General Counsel.”

Retaliation
: “Our Company will not tolerate retaliation against anyone who makes a report in good faith. Anyone who experiences what they believe to be any form of retaliation should report this concern as soon as possible to a supervisor, local compliance officer or the Global Ethics Compliance Officer.”

Carlson: “All Directors, Officers, Supervisors, and Employees shall be vigilant and report to managers, supervisors, the Legal department or the Business Conduct and Ethics Hotline, as appropriate, all situations that come to their attention in the Company’s premises or businesses where Human Trafficking and the Sexual Exploitation of Children is suspected or appears to be intended.”

*Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Children are defined within the full policy.

Disciplinary Policies & Procedures

Use your company’s existing disciplinary process for employees who violate your policies against human trafficking, sex buying, forced labor, and child labor. Clarify the disciplinary process for managers who fail to report evidence of employees who are not compliant with these policies.

POLICY LANGUAGE

Any failure by a manager to report any potential or suspected policy violation that comes to his or her attention or to participate fully in any investigation or resolution of any such violation also violates our policy and constitutes grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including immediate termination of employment.

EXAMPLE

Manpower Group: “Failure to comply with the Code, the required certification process or failure to cooperate with an internal investigation of an actual or apparent violation of this Code may constitute grounds for disciplinary action, up to, and including, termination.”

Code of Conduct for Suppliers

If you have an existing Code of Conduct for Suppliers, include a prohibition on all forms of exploitation and human trafficking, explicitly mentioning human trafficking, sex buying, forced labor, and child labor. You should consider including appropriate monitoring, reporting, and enforcement provisions in the Code. You should also consider requiring that appropriate suppliers be contractually bound to the terms of the Code. If you do not have a Code of Conduct for Suppliers, create one.

POLICY LANGUAGE

Prohibiting human trafficking (both labor trafficking and sex trafficking), sex buying, forced labor, and child labor are set forth above in Part 1. A Code of Conduct for Suppliers should incorporate these types of prohibitions for your suppliers’ businesses.  Depending on the nature and size of your organization and the supplier at issue, as well as other risk and business-related factors, you may decide to incorporate compliance with the Supplier Code of Conduct or similar provisions as a requirement in your contracts with suppliers, and you might consider whether to include a requirement that the supplier maintain similar policies for its suppliers or flow down certain requirements in its contracts or subcontracts.  As an alternative, you might consider giving preferential treatment in the procurement or RFP process to suppliers that have meaningful policies addressing human trafficking and related activities.

EXAMPLE

U.S. Government: The United States Government has adopted a zero tolerance policy regarding trafficking in persons. Additional information about trafficking in persons may be found at the website for the Department of State's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at http://www.state.gov/g/tip.

“All Government solicitations and contracts must--
   (a)     Prohibit contractors, contractor employees, subcontractors, and subcontractor employees from—
                   (1)        Engaging in severe forms of trafficking in persons during the period of performance of the contract;
                  (2)        Procuring commercial sex acts during the period of performance of the contract; or
                 (3)      Using forced labor in the performance of the contract;
  (b)    Require contractors and subcontractors to notify employees of the prohibited activities described in paragraph (a) of this section and the actions that may be taken against them for violations; and
(c)      Impose suitable remedies, including termination, on contractors that fail to comply with the requirements of paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section.”  
         
48 C.F.R. § 22.1703 (2015).

Procurement & RFPs

Create a procurement policy or add language to an existing procurement policy or to RFPs that gives preferential status to suppliers who demonstrate their stand against human trafficking, sex buying, forced labor, and child labor.  Suppliers may demonstrate their stand through their policies, published statements, employee training, and involvement with nongovernmental organizations like BEST.

POLICY LANGUAGE

Our organization upholds the value of each human life.  We stand against abuse and exploitation, including all forms of human trafficking, sex buying, forced labor, and child labor, as set forth in our policies at [include reference to Company policies].  We give a preferential status to our business partners who do the same and have implemented policies and practices that clearly set forth prohibited activities by their employees, contractors, and suppliers; the means of monitoring compliance and reporting issues; the consequences for engaging in prohibited activities; and a demonstrated commitment to carrying out the stated terms.

Vendor Contracts

Your Organization’s Commitment: Add language to contracts with suppliers and, as applicable, with customers, regarding your commitment to stand against human trafficking, sex buying, forced labor, and child labor, using language from your existing policies.

Commitment by Your Suppliers: Add language to contracts with suppliers requiring them to adopt and enforce policies prohibiting human trafficking, sex buying, forced labor, and child labor, or agreeing to comply with the terms of your Supplier Code of Conduct.

POLICY LANGUAGE

Throughout the term of this [Agreement], [Supplier] will (1) have in place and enforce appropriate policies and procedures that prohibit employees from using any forced labor or prohibited child labor or engaging in any human trafficking activity of any kind, whether on company or personal time, or engaging in any sex buying activities of any kind during company time, while working on company business, or while engaged in work-related activities (including business travel), or using any company or work properties or resources whatsoever, (2) notify its employees of these prohibitions and monitor and enforce compliance with them, (3) impose appropriate remedies for any violations, up to and including corrective action and termination of the applicable relationship or agreement, and (4) allow [Company], or third parties it retains, to conduct audits or investigations to verify [Supplier’s] compliance.

Option to Terminate: Provide an option to terminate the contract if the other party participates in any form of human trafficking or otherwise violates these terms.  In practice, it may be better to engage and educate stakeholders, or to require remedial action and ongoing monitoring, than to terminate contracts.  Providing an option to terminate communicates how seriously your organization takes this issue, provides leverage for requiring compliance or remediation, and allows you to end a relationship when necessary.

POLICY LANGUAGE

If during the term of this [Agreement], [Company] has a reasonable belief that any prohibited human trafficking, sex buying, forced labor, or child labor activity has occurred in the course of [Supplier’s] operations or business, or if [Supplier] otherwise fails to comply with the terms of this Section [X], it will constitute a material breach of this [Agreement], giving [Company] the right to terminate this [Agreement] immediately upon written notice to [Supplier] in addition to all other relief to which it may be entitled.  [Company] may choose, in its sole discretion, to not terminate the [Agreement] and to require that [Supplier] immediately come into compliance, remedy any breach of this Section (including taking all necessary corrective action, providing full remuneration to affected workers, paying any penalties or interest, and compensating [Company] for any related losses), and allow audits or investigations performed by a third party or by [Company] officials, to assess compliance.

EXAMPLES

Envision Meetings & Incentives, Inc.: This meeting planning company includes the following clause in their contracts:  “Envision Meetings & Incentives, Inc. condemns the sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism. We will train our staff and partners to ensure that they know what to do if they suspect such exploitation in the course of their work. To this end we have signed the Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct (www.thecode.org, www.ecpatusa.org). We ask our business partners to do the same."

Starbucks: The following is an excerpt from a Starbucks Supplier Code of Conduct: “Verification of compliance is subject to audits by Starbucks or a third party designated by or otherwise acceptable to Starbucks. Failure to comply, or failure to work with Starbucks or a third party to correct non-complying situations, are grounds for cancellation of open orders, discontinued use of non-complying production sites, or termination of our business relationship.”

“ManpowerGroup stands for the dignity of work, employment opportunities for all, ethical and effective business practices, a sustainable environment, and successful local communities. ManpowerGroup stands against practices that exploit people and limit opportunities for individuals to fully enjoy the dignity of work, especially the most vulnerable in society. We attempt to reduce abuse, focusing on creating awareness of, and opposition to [practices such as] . . . human trafficking.”

Manpower Group Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, 2004.

Did your organization adopt a policy?
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*BEST is not providing legal advice and employers should not rely on any of the information provided without consulting an attorney. BEST takes reasonable steps in collecting, preparing, and providing BEST Practices for employers, but in no event is BEST liable for its truth, accuracy, or completeness. To the fullest extent permissible by law, BEST is not liable for use of any information under any circumstances.