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LABOR
STANDARDS


To ensure fair conditions for the workers in our supply chain, we are committed to two human rights standards: Social Accountability International's SA8000, a critical tool for assessing factories, and Ethical Trading Initiative's Base Code, which allows us to evaluate "cottage" industries (such as artisans and homeworkers), as well as collaborate with other brands to improve conditions in factories.

Read More:

Amy Takes on SA8000
Luna Lee: 500 People Touched My Clothing

Social Accountability International SA8000
Since 1997, EILEEN FISHER has been a Signatory member of Social Accountability International (SAI), a multistakeholder organization dedicated to developing and implementing socially responsible labor standards. SAI developed SA8000, the comprehensive workplace standard that our factories follow. Based on conventions from the United Nations, the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, SA8000 sets forth fundamental human rights in nine areas: child labor, forced labor, freedom of association, disciplinary practices, discrimination, working hours, remuneration, health and safety and management systems.

Becoming SA8000 certified is a huge commitment of both time and financial resources for our suppliers, so we do not require certification. For us, it is more important that suppliers are actually doing the right thing and following SA8000 guidelines. Currently, two out of our thirty-one first tier manufacturing partners are SA8000 certified—one in China and one in India. We use independent, third-party auditing firms to verify compliance with SA8000 and provide training on a variety of related topics to factory managers and workers as needed. Women, who constitute 80% of our factory workers, are important beneficiaries of SA8000 guidelines.

Our relationship with SAI is especially rich as our Director of Social Consciousness, Amy Hall, chairs the SAI Advisory Board, which she first joined in 2001. Luna Lee, Human Rights Leader, is an Advisory Board alternate.

SA8000 stipulates the following:

1. Child labor
a. There should be no workers under the age of fifteen.
b. The age minimum is lowered to fourteen for countries operating under the ILO Convention 138, an exception for developing nations.
c. Remediation occurs when any child is found to be working.

2. Forced and compulsory labor
a. There is no forced labor, no prison or debt bondage labor and no lodging of deposits or identity papers by employers or outside recruiters.

3. Health and safety
a. Factories must provide a safe and healthy work environment with regular worker training.
b. There must be a system to detect threats to health and safety and steps must be taken to prevent injuries.
c. Workers must have access to bathrooms and potable water.

4. Freedom of association and right to collective bargaining
a. Employers must respect workers' right to form and join trade unions and bargain collectively.
b. Where law prohibits these freedoms, employers must facilitate parallel means of association and bargaining.

5. Discrimination
a. There should be no discrimination based on race, caste, origin, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, union or political affiliation or age.
b. There should be no sexual harassment.

6. Disciplinary practices
a. There should be no corporal punishment, mental or physical coercion or verbal abuse.

7. Working hours
a. Workers will work no more than forty-eight hours per week with at least one day off for every seven-day period.
b. Voluntary overtime is paid at a premium rate and not to exceed twelve hours per week on a regular basis.
c. Overtime may be mandatory if it is part of a collective bargaining agreement.
d. In all other respects, employers must comply with applicable laws.

8. Remuneration
a. Wages paid for a standard workweek must meet the legal and industry standards and be sufficient to meet the basic needs of workers and their families.
b. There should be no disciplinary deductions.

9. Management systems
a. Facilities seeking to gain and maintain SA8000 certification must go beyond simple compliance to integrate the standard into their management systems and practices.

Ethical Trading Initiative's Base Code
ETI is a groundbreaking alliance of companies, trade unions and voluntary organizations that are partnering to improve the working lives of people across the globe. Since joining ETI in 2011, we have participated in the Apparel and Textiles working group for different supply chain countries, the Homeworkers Project, the living wage community of practice, and the medium-sized company group. By working in partnership with the other brands who are also ETI members, we have more influence in bringing changes to the global supply chain and enhancing the lives of workers worldwide.

Like the SA8000, ETI Base Code is also founded on the conventions of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and is an internationally recognized code of labor practice with nine principles.

Employment is freely chosen.
  • There should not be any forced, bonded or involuntary prison labor.
  • Workers are not required to lodge deposits or their identity papers with their employer and are free to leave their employer after reasonable notice.
Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining are respected.
  • Workers, without differentiation, have the right to join or form trade unions of their own choosing and to bargain collectively.
  • The employer adopts an open attitude towards the activities of trade unions and their organizational activities.
  • Workers' representatives are not discriminated against and have access to carry out their representative functions in the workplace.
  • Where the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining is restricted under law, the employer facilitates, and does not hinder, the development of parallel means for independent and free association and bargaining.
Working conditions are safe and hygienic.
  • Safe and hygienic working environments shall be provided, bearing in mind the prevailing knowledge of the industry and of any specific hazards. Adequate steps shall be taken to prevent accidents and injury to health arising out of, associated with or occurring in the course of work by minimizing, so far as is reasonably practicable, the causes of hazards inherent in the working environment.
  • Workers shall receive regular and recorded health and safety training, and such training shall be repeated for new or reassigned workers.
  • Access to clean toilet facilities, potable water and, if appropriate, sanitary facilities for food storage shall be provided.
  • Accommodation, where provided, shall be clean, safe and meet the basic needs of the workers.
  • The company observing the code shall assign responsibility for health and safety to a senior management representative.
Child labor shall not be used.
  • There shall be no new recruitment of child labor.
  • Companies shall develop or participate in policies and programs that provide for the transition of any child found to be performing child labor. The program must enable her or him to attend and remain in quality education until no longer a child; "child" and "child labor" being defined in the Base Code appendices.
  • Persons under the age of eighteen shall not be employed at night or in hazardous conditions.
  • These policies and procedures shall conform to the provisions of the relevant ILO standards.
Living wages are paid.
  • Wages and benefits paid for a standard workweek meet, at a minimum, national legal standards or industry benchmark standards, whichever is higher. In any event wages should always be enough to meet basic needs and to provide some discretionary income.
  • All workers shall be provided with written and understandable information about their employment conditions with respect to wages before they enter employment.
  • During employment, workers should be provided with information about the particulars of their wages for the pay period concerned each time that they are paid.
  • Deductions from wages as a disciplinary measure shall not be permitted. No deductions not permitted by national law shall be taken without the express permission of the worker concerned. All disciplinary measures should be recorded.
Working hours are not excessive.
  • Working hours comply with national laws and benchmark industry standards, whichever affords greater protection.
  • In any event, workers shall not on a regular basis be required to work in excess of forty-eight hours per week and shall be provided with at least one day off for every seven-day period on average. Overtime shall be voluntary, shall not exceed twelve hours per week, shall not be demanded on a regular basis and shall always be compensated at a premium rate.
No discrimination is practiced.
  • There should be no discrimination in hiring, compensation, access to training, promotion, termination or retirement based on race, caste, national origin, religion, age, disability, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, union membership or political affiliation.
Regular employment is provided.
  • To every extent possible work performed must be based on an employment relationship recognized through national law and practice.
  • Obligations of the regular employment relationship as provided under labor or social security laws and regulations shall not be avoided through the use of labor-only contracting, subcontracting or homeworking arrangements, or through apprenticeship schemes where there is no real intent to impart skills or provide regular employment. Nor shall any such obligations be avoided through the excessive use of fixed-term contracts of employment.
No harsh or inhumane treatment is allowed.
  • Physical abuse or discipline, the threat of physical abuse, sexual or other harassment and verbal abuse or other forms of intimidation shall be prohibited.