Prohibiting federal contractors from charging workers recruitment fees is a cornerstone of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) requiring contractors and subcontractors to take specific preventive measures to detect and eliminate forced labor and human trafficking in their supply chains. In December 2018, the U.S. Government amended the FAR to include a comprehensive and clear definition of what constitute “recruitment fees.”
The most significant contributor to the ongoing presence of debt bondage or forced labor in global supply chains is the burden of recruitment fees and expenses on migrant workers. Many employers and recruiters in high risk global supply chains build business models on charging unskilled and low-skilled workers fees for employment. Specifically, employers pay no or insufficient professional service fees to the recruitment agents they engage to find them workers. Rather, they knowingly allow agents to recoup revenue and the significant legitimate expenses associated with international labor migration—such as government approvals and travel costs—from the workers themselves.