Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar criminal industry and fighting it has become a priority for the hotel and lodging industry and some lawmakers. A new law in California requires hotel and motel employers to train employees on human trafficking awareness by January 1, 2020, and then every two years.
Under Senate Bill 970, California hotels and motels must provide at least 20 minutes of interactive training and education on human trafficking awareness to all employees who are likely to interact or come into contact with traffickers or victims of human trafficking. The law applies to employees hired as of July 1, 2019. New hires must be trained within six months.
The training must cover:
- The definition of human trafficking and commercial exploitation of children.
- Guidance on how to identify individuals who are most at risk for human trafficking.
- The difference between labor and sex trafficking specific to the hotel sector.
- Guidance on the role of hospitality employees in reporting and responding to this issue.
- Contact information of appropriate agencies, including the National Human Trafficking Hotline and local law enforcement agencies.
Whether training is mandatory or not, all hotel employees can benefit from a greater awareness of human trafficking and how to safely help victims by following their organization’s anti-human trafficking policy and reporting procedures.
What is human trafficking?
The term human trafficking describes different forms of illegally exploiting individuals with the intent to obtain forced labor or services, including commerical sex acts. Human smuggling, while related, is not the same as human trafficking.
Traffickers often target hotels and motels because of the privacy and anonymity they provide, however, human trafficking can occur in any industry and anyplace. This includes private homes, agricultural fields, factories, truck stops, restaurants, spas, hair and nail salons, brothels and strip clubs, golf courses, swimming pools, amusement parks and carnivals.
Further, anyone can be a victim of human trafficking. It affects adults and children of any race, color, national origin, ability, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, education level, or citizenship status. The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 40.3 million victims of human trafficking globally, with hundreds of thousands in the US.
Red flags for hotel employees
Making hotel employees aware of some of the red flags or indicators they may encounter in their specific departments is key to effective human trafficking training. For example, concierge, front desk, security and valet staff should be aware of guests who appear malnourished or injured, have few or no personal items, or pay with cash or a preloaded credit card. Indicators for food and beverage employees include guests entertaining a minor who they didn’t arrive with, individuals loitering and soliciting male guests, or individuals asking staff or guests for food or money. For housekeeping, maintenance and room service staff, red flags may be an extended stay with few personal possessions, guests who refuse cleaning services, or individuals leaving a room infrequently, not at all, or at odd hours.
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California hotel and motel operators should have plans well underway to meet the January 1, 2020 deadline to provide human trafficking training to all employees. In addition, January 11 is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, an annual opportunity for organizations across industries to shine a spotlight on their policies, procedures, training and other initiatives to prevent this global crime.