Social clauses in public procurement

Social clauses in public procurement are provisions that the client (government) can include in the contract documents to achieve social objectives. These objectives may include, for example, promoting the employment of disadvantaged groups, combating social dumping, respecting labor rights, promoting social dialogue, supporting the social economy, etc.

The principal can apply social clauses in different ways, depending on the nature and object of the assignment. For example, the principal may:

  • Use social criteria when selecting candidates or tenderers. This means that the client checks whether the candidates or tenderers meet certain social conditions, such as complying with social legislation, having a diversity policy, having a social label, etc.
  • Attach social conditions to the performance of the contract. This means that the client requires the contractor (the contractor, supplier or service provider) to comply with certain social obligations during the execution of the contract, such as reserving a portion of working hours for disadvantaged groups, offering training or internships, respecting international labor standards, etc.
  • Integrate social aspects into the technical specifications or award criteria of the contract. This means that the client takes into account the social characteristics or social impact of the products, works or services that are the subject of the contract, such as accessibility, user-friendliness, sustainability, quality, innovation, etc.

The contractor must comply with the social clauses imposed by the employer, and must be able to prove it. The client, in turn, must monitor compliance with the social clauses, and can impose sanctions for non-compliance, such as withholding payments, breaking the contract, exclusion from future assignments, etc.

Social clauses in public procurement thus aim to increase the social responsibility of public authorities and contractors, and to contribute to a more just and inclusive society.

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