Our garment factories to be socially compliant, the 9 requirements of the SA8000 Standard needs to be met. The SA8000 standard is one of the world’s leading social standards used for measuring social compliance and implementing international labor standards. It was established by a non-governmental, multi-stakeholder organization named Social Accountability International who strives to eliminate sweatshops by promoting ethical working conditions, labor rights, corporate social responsibility and social dialogue.
The 9 SA8000 social compliance requirements are:
1. Child labor: No children younger than 15 years of age may be employed by a factory.
2. Forced labor: No person may be employed by a factory if they haven’t offered to do so voluntarily or be forced to work under the threat of punishment or retaliation.
3. Health and safety: A safe and healthy workplace environment must be provided by the factory who should also prevent any potential health and safety incidents and work related injury or illness from occurring.
4. Freedom of association and collective bargaining: All staff have the right to form, join and organize trade unions and to bargain collectively on their behalf.
5. Discrimination: A factory is prohibited from engaging in discrimination in hiring, remuneration, access to training, promotion, termination or retirement.
6. Disciplinary practices: A factory is prohibited from engaging in or tolerating the use of corporal punishment, mental or physical coercion or verbal abuse of employees.
7. Working hours: A factory must comply with applicable laws, collective bargaining agreements and industry standards on working hours, breaks and public holidays.
8. Remuneration: The right of staff to a living wage must be respected by the factory.
9. Management systems: Compliance must be reviewed and implemented to the SA800 Standard through developed policies and procedures.
As mentioned above, even though set compliance standards exist, garment factories around the world are still found in violation of social compliance and are charged on counts of unfair wages, extensive working hours, exceeding local over time limits, health and safety violations and more. These violations have led to many tragic occurrences which could easily have been prevented, such as the Bangladesh garment factory explosion which occurred earlier this year, killing 10 workers and injuring 50. Therefore, social compliance can’t be overlooked.
It is essential for garment factories to consider conducting a social compliance audit. A social compliance audit can be used as a measuring tool for determining a factory’s social compliance standards but is not a solution for ensuring that social compliance standards are met. Social compliance is difficult to achieve, but working with a textile management solution provider, minimizes the consequences of not meeting social compliance standards and helps to establish an improvement plan going forward.
In practice, common social compliance violations discovered across garment factories, and factories in other industries, include:
◈ Failure to provide adequate social insurance benefits
◈ Unfair wages, including remuneration not in accordance with minimum wage laws and mandatory overtime rates, as well as withheld pay
◈ Working hours in excess of local overtime limits
◈ Health and safety violations including inadequate fire safety, use of protective gear and poor sanitation in facilities and dormitories