New Florida law targets companies using forced labor

by | May 20, 2024

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill prohibiting Florida state contracts with companies that use forced labor, creating a “Forced Labor Vendor List” to enforce the new rule.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed into law a bill prohibiting Florida state agencies from contracting with companies that use forced labor to produce commodities.

The bill, which passed the House with a unanimous vote in February and the Senate in March, mandates the creation of a “Forced Labor Vendor List” that the Department of Management Services (DMS) will maintain. The list will include companies disqualified from public contracting for one year due to their use of forced labor.

DMS will compile and update a quarterly list of companies identified as using forced labor. Companies appearing on this list will be prohibited from submitting bids, proposals, or replies to state agencies for a period of 365 days, unless an administrative review leads to their earlier removal.

All state contracts entered into or renewed after July 1 must additionally include a clause allowing for contract termination if the contractor is found to have used forced labor. Companies bidding for state contracts must certify, in writing, that their commodities are not produced using forced labor. This certification must be provided by a senior management official.

Companies must notify the contracting agency within 30 days if they discover any forced labor in their supply chain. Agencies are required to inform the DMS within 10 days of receiving such information. The DMS is tasked with investigating credible allegations and determining if placement on the Forced Labor Vendor List is in the public interest. Moreover, companies that submit false certifications or knowingly provide goods produced with forced labor may face fines of $1,000 or 20 percent of the contract’s value, whichever is greater.

Florida’s procurement laws require state agencies to use a competitive solicitation process for contracts exceeding $35,000. The DMS already maintains several vendor lists, such as the Suspended Vendor List and the Convicted Vendor List, aimed at preventing companies with problematic histories from securing state contracts.

By adding the Forced Labor Vendor List, Florida joins a growing number of states and entities globally taking a stand against forced labor. The definition of forced labor, as per the federal Tariff Act of 1930, includes all work or service exacted under threat and without the worker’s voluntary consent.


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