The 411 on Ethical Certification: SA8000
As Ethical Fashion Brokers, our job is to make it easier for you to get connected with ethical factories in the developing world who can make your collection up to your high quality standards, in your desired time frame, and at a price that beats the big US city competition and still pays their workers a living wage. Whew! One of the certifications we work with that is also the gold star in the ethical certification world is Social Accountability International (SAI) and their coveted SA8000 certification.
Who are these guys anyways?
Social Accountability International fights for the integrity of global workers by building local capacity and developing systems of accountability through socially responsible standards.
To provide a fuller picture for the ethical manufacturing cause, SAI provides training and technical assistance to aid the broader picture that surrounds compliance. They have an overall vision to ensure decent work everywhere.
SA8000 Certification Play by Play
1| No Child Labor
Factories can employ young workers (most of us had afterschool jobs too after all someone had to pay for our sweet sweet rides), however they must not interfere with school, cannot involve night hours, and cannot accumulate to over 10 hours per day including school, travel, and work hours. Oh and the work can’t be dangerous...obvi.
2| No Forced Labor
Because slavery is never in style. So you can’t withhold any due salary or benefits to force the employee to keep working. No employment fees are pushed to the worker. And workers have the right to leave the workplace after the standard work day, and the right to quit given reasonable notice. Also, under no circumstances can the factory engage in human trafficking...because villains are only cool at Halloween costume parties not IRL.
3| Thou Shalt be Healthy & Safe
Steps are consistently taken to maintain a healthy, safe work environment for the staff, including increased measures for new, expecting, or nursing mothers. Where hazardous work is needed, proper safety equipment is provided and a senior manager will be appointed to oversee all safety conditions, and a committee including management and workers will consistently ensure all safety aspects are being covered. Lastly, the factory must provide clean toilet facilities, places for meal breaks and food storage, and drinkable water access.
4| Right to Unionize
Pretty self explanatory. You can’t be reprimanded for forming a union, joining a union, and generally advocating for your rights as a worker.
5| Discrimination is a No-Go
Factories cannot hire, fire, ensure or withhold promotion or decide pay based on caste, religion, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, disability, family responsibilities, marital status, age, political opinion, or union membership.
6| Appropriate Discipline
No harsh or inhumane treatment allowed which they clearly outline to keep bullies at bay.
7| Working Hours
The normal work week not including overtime shall not exceed 48 hours with at least one day off after 6 consecutive days, and will include breaks and public holidays.
8| Living Wage
Workers income must cover basic needs and some discretionary income not including overtime hours which are reimbursed at a premium rate.
9| Management Communication & Accountability
Management shall make all SA8000 rules and standards clear, accessible, and communicated to employees in all appropriate languages. Management will go under continual review by a formed Social Performance Team which includes one worker representative and manager to ensure these standards are being met. Additionally, proper training is provided to implement SA8000 certification standards.
You can visit the Social Accountability International website to dig into the nitty-gritty detailed semantics of these standards but we can tell you they are rigorous and oft audited to ensure the highest ethical standards of the factories. If you’d love to work with a factory meeting the high standards of the SA8000 certification please email us to schedule an informal conversation to learn your production needs and how we can connect you to your dream ethical factory.
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