Along with the fingerprinting retention requirement fee, the passage of Florida House Bill 851: pertaining to Human Trafficking, is causing some commotion among Florida Massage Therapists. This uptick in anxiety about new requirements is typical after a new law is passed and there are a few remaining unknowns.
Here is a quick guide to some of the upcoming changes for massage therapists.
What is House Bill 851?
The goal of House Bill 851 is to combat human trafficking in Florida. Why? Florida is ranked as the third highest trafficking destination in the country. That is a frightening statistic.
The new law includes requirements for health care professionals, the hotel industry, and law enforcement in Florida.
When was it passed?
After the House voted 108-1 in favor and the Senate followed with a 36-0 vote, it was presented and approved by Governor DeSantis on 6/26/2019.
When is the effective date?
The effective date was 7/1/2019. Yes, it already took effect. Many of the requirements have a deadline of January 2020 or 2021, so pay attention to dates in this article.
Some have said this immediate effective date is to get a head start on the 2020 Superbowl, which will be hosted in Miami. Superbowl Sunday is notoriously known dubbed the biggest trafficking event in the United States. Lots of inaccurate claims about the correlation between human trafficking and Superbowl Sunday. The truth is, every Superbowl host city in the past several years has taken the opportunity to bring attention to their city’s and state’s human trafficking problem.
Superbowl or not, Florida has a human trafficking crisis and I am pleased to see swift action taken on this issue.
What does the Law require?
Listed below are some requirements that apply to Florida massage therapists, as well as other health care professionals.
Human Trafficking Continuing Education
Massage therapists, and the below licensed health care providers, are required to complete a one (1) hour course pertaining to human trafficking.
- Chiropractic medicine
- Dentistry, dental hygiene, and dental laboratories
- Dietetics and nutrition practice
- Massage practice
- Medical practice
- Nursing home administration
- Occupational therapy
- Osteopathic medicine
- Physical therapy practice
- Podiatric medicine
- Respiratory therapy
Are massage therapists required to complete the 1-hour course for the August 2019 renewal since it took effect July 1, 2019?
Good question! It does not appear so. At first, I thought this would take effect for the 2021 renewal deadline, but then I read this:
“The course must be completed by January 1, 2021 , and will count towards the required CE for renewal. The bill does not require that this course be taken again for future renewal cycles.”
As of now, this may be a one-and-done course for current licensees and not something you will need to retake each renewal. What I do not know is if massage therapists moving to Florida will be required to take the course and if it will become part of the Florida massage school curriculum in the future. There is nothing that statutorily requires the course to be “live,” so it is likely you will be able to complete this course quickly and conveniently online.
Human Trafficking Signs
By January 1, 2021, Massage establishments will be required by law to post a sign regarding human trafficking in a conspicuous place accessible to employees.
Here are some quick sign requirements. The sign must:
- Be at least 11 x 15 inches
- Be at least 32-point type
- Contain statutorily required language and be posted in English and Spanish. The Department has also provided Mandarin (Chinese) translations of these signs for use in offices where those languages are spoken
The links below contain signs that meet the statutory requirements when printed at the listed size.
Designated Establishment Manager (DEM)
The law defines both “Establishment Owner” and “Designated Establishment Manager.”
An establishment owner is a person who has an ownership interest in a massage establishment.
A “designated establishment manager,” or DEM, is a massage therapist who holds a clear and active massage license without restriction. The DEM is responsible for the operation of a massage establishment in accordance with the provisions of law and rules.
By January 1, 2020, every massage establishment licensed before July 1st, 2019, must identify a designated establishment manager. All establishment license applications after July 1, 2019, need to name a DEM on the application.
Forms and applications for establishments which incorporate the requirement for a DEM are still “coming soon” on some of the department website pages. However, I was able to find a form recently on the board’s website – DEM Form / Designated Establishment Manager Form.
Here is some more information about selecting a DEM.
Human Trafficking Reporting Procedures
By January 1, 2021, all massage establishments will need to implement a procedure for reporting suspected human trafficking to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Not only that, but a sign with the establishment’s procedure will also need to be posted in an area accessible to employees. Again, the Board of Massage Therapy will be adopting Rules to implement this requirement.
No Repeat Offenders
Honestly, I thought we already had laws on this issue. But, we must have needed one more.
If a person has been subjected to criminal punishment for committing an act involving prostitution, the Board of Massage Therapy is required to revoke or suspend the license of a massage establishment. It also requires the Board to deny subsequent licensure if the person reapplies for any of the above licenses. I am not sure, but I think the difference now is that the board does not just “have the power to revoke,” they must revoke the license or deny the application.
Help Others “BEFREE”
These new laws and rules are not a punishment to massage therapists. Making minor changes in establishments and educating ourselves on how to better serve the public is something all health care providers have to do. I have taught a course pertaining to human trafficking for a few years now for both Florida Massage and Cosmetology license renewals and I truly believe we have the opportunity to really make a difference in the lives of others. After the details of the requirements for the course are finalized by the Board, I will have the course available online.
We can be angry and upset with the right people, the traffickers. But victims of human trafficking honestly need our help and compassion. They are modern slaves. Even though it appears they can come and go as they please, they cannot. Keep in mind, some have their passports taken, are unfamiliar with the English language, have been threatened with violence against their family if they do not comply with the trafficker, and have been groomed to fear living outside their current situation.
We all need to pitch in and help to end human trafficking. This new law requires those in law enforcement to take a 4-hour human trafficking training course. I know many massage therapists have voiced frustration about the lack of response when reporting suspicious Massage Establishments in the past. Hopefully, with this increased awareness and education, we will all see better outcomes. Additionally, those that clean rental units or hotel rooms will now have to take a course so they can spot signs of human trafficking while at work in the hotel industry. Solving this crisis in Florida really will be a group effort.
Let’s get to work helping those that need us to speak up for them.
Children and adults can be victims of human trafficking. “If you see something, say something.” If you have information regarding suspected Human Trafficking of a child in Florida contact: Florida Abuse Hotline 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873).
If you have information regarding suspected Human Trafficking of an adult anywhere in the United States or of a child outside of Florida please contact: National Human Trafficking Resource Center 1-888-373-7888. Text HELP to 233733 (BEFREE):
To get help for victims and survivors of human trafficking or to connect with local services. Visit the National Human Trafficking Hotline online at: https://humantraffickinghotline.org.