Sie sind auf Seite 1von 30

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010

SA8000:2008 Frequently Asked Questions Purpose and Scope: What is meant by the new language in
SA8000:2008 Frequently Asked Questions
Purpose and Scope: What is meant by the new language in SA8000:2008
protect and empower all personnel within a
Q: If I have a company with 100 workers and in the same facility, there is
Normative Elements

I. Purpose and Scope

I.1

under purpose, where it says, “To

company’s scope of control and influence”?

This draws attention, earlier in the document, to the fact that management is responsible to/for those working on their premises alongside direct employees and for/to those whose work provides inputs to their final product (see also clauses 9.7 to 9.10 under management systems in SA8000:2008).

This means that direct-hires, suppliers, subcontractors, sub-suppliers and home workers are all covered under the SA8000 standard. This does not necessarily mean that every sub-supplier or home worker workplace is SA8000 certified, but that the certified organization (company) is addressing SA8000 compliance throughout its supply chain.

SA8000 requires a good faith effort by a company to exercise its control and influence throughout its supply chain. Auditing this will require a case by case analysis, conducted in conjunction with an analysis of the company’s complaints management (clause 9.11) and stakeholder engagement (9.14) to ensure the company is open and responsive to issues that may arise in their supply chain. The intent of this section, as well as the control of supplier requirements in section 9, is the same as prior editions of SA8000.

I.2.

another storage facility owned by a separate company that manages another 50 workers, do all 150 workers have to be covered by the part of the standard that relates to working hours?

SA8000 certifies a company, so the certification applies to all the persons working on the premises of that company and/or under the management of that company. In a case like the one described, if there is a business relationship and/or any degree of management overlap, the storage facility should be covered by the certification and related audits. If the businesses are completely distinct, however, then they would need to be covered by two distinct certifications.

II.

II.1.

Q: Why are there no references to ILO conventions relevant for agriculture?

In the standard revision process extensive comparisons were done to various codes [for example, that of JO-IN], and the committee also looked at the language within ILO conventions to include those conventions most relevant. The SA8000 Guidance

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010

Document will reference additional ILO resources. Based on field tests and research, SA8000 has been found applicable in many types of agro-industry, particularly plantations. The Advisory Board has considered requests to make exceptions (relaxing certain rules) for agriculture or other industries, but to date there are no industry-specific versions of SA8000.

Q: Does the reference to ILO Recommendation 146 in SA8000:2008 mean Q: Are temporary workers
Q: Does the reference to ILO Recommendation 146 in SA8000:2008 mean
Q: Are temporary workers covered under the term personnel?
Q: Is there a difference between a SA8000 worker representative and a

II.2.

that child labor (14 and under) is entirely disallowed?

The definition of child labor in SA8000 references the corresponding ILO Recommendation 146, which outlines the care to be taken for young workers and the goal of raising the minimum working age; see article 7:1 and 7.2. The recommendation also refers to the possibility that a country take the ‘developing country exception’ under the corresponding Convention 138 on Minimum Working Age, which allows countries to permit youth labor at 14 years of age (article 2.4). We note, however, that fewer and fewer countries seek this developing country exception. See also question FAQ IV.2 under Child Labor.

III. Definitions

III.1.

Q: The Definition of a child has changed; the developing country exceptions

reference previously under ILO Convention 138 has been eliminated. What do we consider the age of a child exactly?

The ‘developing country exception’ is still implicitly referenced in the definition of child labor, but in keeping with ILO recommendations it is generally discouraged. Anyone under the age of 15 is considered a child under SA8000:2008, unless national law defines it differently (see II.2 above).

III.2.

Yes, the word “personnel” was added to the new standard to clarify that all workers are included.

III.3.

worker organization?

Yes, there is a significant difference. A SA8000 worker representative serves as a liaison between management and workers to communicate about challenges and efforts to ensure compliance with the standard. A worker organization is a group of workers that seeks jointly to improve their working conditions. The right to bargain collectively can only be secured by a worker organization, once that worker organization has secured representation of a required percentage of workers (defined by national law); reference to worker organizations and the right to collective bargaining in ILO materials are generally understood to refer to trade unions.

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010

Q: What is a C.B.A.? Q: Does this section of the standard also apply to
Q: What is a C.B.A.?
Q: Does this section of the standard also apply to subcontractors?
Is the employment of a child under 15 considered child labor?
“(1) Members should take as their objective the progressive raising to 16 years of the
minimum age for admission to employment or work specified in pursuance of Article 2 of
the Minimum Age Convention, 1973.
(2) Where the minimum age for employment or work covered by Article 2 of the Minimum
Age Convention, 1973, is still below 15 years, urgent steps should be taken to raise it to
that level.”
Q: If a company has a clear policy against employing children, does it still

is 16, because Chinese law classifies young workers as being between 16 and 18 years

more protective of workers.

III.4.

A

trade union and the employer, normally enforceable in court.

C.B.A. is a collective bargaining agreement that results from negotiation between a

IV. Child Labor

IV.1.

Yes, it applies to subcontractors and other related entities that are within the scope and influence of the company (see management systems clauses 9.7 through 9.10).

IV.2.

In

elements, which allows for developing country exceptions to the minimum age of 15 (article 2.4). We note, however, that fewer and fewer countries have sought the developing country exception and the SA8000 definition of child labor references the

most places, it is. The standard references ILO Convention 138 among the normative

corresponding ILO Recommendation 146, which outlines the care to be taken for young workers and the goal of raising the minimum working age; see article 7:1 and 7.2

Additionally, we note that child labor is disallowed under SA8000:2008, but the standard

is

reflects the up take of SA8000 in primarily formal sector workplaces where special schedules of light work for children have not been used.

more explicit that, under specific circumstances, youth labor is permitted. This change

IV.3.

Q: Under the standard and in the case of China, is 15 or 16 years of age to be

considered a young worker for a company seeking SA8000 certification?

It

old. As throughout SA8000, the requirement is as written, or the national law, whichever

is

IV.4.

need to have a written policy for a remediation program even if this written

statement raises suspicion?

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010

Q: In Poland it is illegal and nearly impossible to employ children. Do Q: What
Q: In Poland it is illegal and nearly impossible to employ children. Do
Q: What written procedures do we require of a company regarding
Q: Regarding a company’s duty of remediation of children found working,
Q: Concerning section 1.2, in SA8000:2008 it says that a company shall

Yes, the company still needs to have a written policy for a remediation program if a child is found to be working, even when mistakenly/accidentally hired. Companies can phrase the statement in such a way that does not raise suspicion; e.g.: ‘The company is so committed to ensuring child labor is not used, management has defined a remediation plan in keeping with the SA8000 requirements and for use in the event such a case ever arises.’

IV.5.

companies still need to have a written remediation program under the SA8000

standard?

Yes, companies still need to have a written program to get SA8000 certified. Despite child labor being illegal in many countries, it still exists. Also, even where a country is exceptional in protecting their own children, there may still be migrant workers’ children at risk, etc. Such procedures, which can be very simply written, are planned in order to cope with unintended problems.

IV.6.

remediation of children found to be working?

In some cases, this could be a simple statement outlining what a company will do if someone underage were found to be hired for example by using a fake i.d. or lying about his or her age. Even if companies state that they do not hire children, they still need to plan ahead with a procedure for remediation when children have been hired because there is always a chance that they can accidentally hire someone who is under age. Note: The detail in the procedure should be relevant to the level of risk of such occurrence.

IV.7.

what if there are no schools in the immediate area, children are not accepted by school or the parents want the children to work?

None of these are accepted reasons for allowing child labor. If such issues exist, the company should be in contact with the local education ministry or other child welfare organizations, to seek a solution. See also Guidance 2004 for more information on this.

IV.8.

establish policies and written procedures of remediation of children, while SA8000:2001 said companies needed to have documented procedures. Is there a difference between written and documented procedures under SA8000:2008?

The new standard states “written procedures” in order to clarify any confusion regarding the term ‘documented procedures.’ There is no difference between written and documented procedures.

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010

IV.9.

Q: Clause 1.3 states that young workers cannot work during night hours. Q: In India,
Q: Clause 1.3 states that young workers cannot work during night hours.
Q: In India, for example, there are many companies that employ migrant
Q: If workers voluntarily give their employers their passports, is this

What qualifies as night hours?

Companies should refer to national law in this case. Night hours usually refer to the hours between sunset and sunrise. Per ILO Recommendation 178 on Night Work (1990), “the term night work means all work which is performed during a period of not less than seven consecutive hours, including the interval from midnight to 5 a.m.”

IV.10. Q: How do you check if children are working at night, under SA8000?

Certification auditors are expected to conduct spot checks of every shift in a workplace. Under SA8000:2008, auditors should monitor all the shifts of their younger workers and visit worksites at night to ensure that there are no children or young workers working.

V. Forced and Compulsory Labor

V.1.

Q: What is the difference between forced and compulsory labor according to

SA8000?

The terms are taken from the ILO Convention 29 on Forced Labor (1930) referenced in the normative elements of SA8000; per C 29, article II.1: forced or compulsory labour “means all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily.” In the context of SA8000, this includes any labor exacted under threat of physical harm and/or under debt bondage.

V.2.

workers. If a company holds their passports and they are able to retrieve their passports within five minutes if asked, is this an example of forced labor under the standard?

Yes, this would be forced labor under the standard because workers who lack freedom of mobility and cannot choose to hold their own passports. Thus the quick retrieval time is not relevant. To avoid such dilemmas, the company should provide workers a secure place to keep their valuables and thus not necessary for management to ‘protect’ their passports.

V.3.

acceptable under the standard?

No, this is not acceptable under the SA8000 standard. Verifying “voluntary” is too difficult in this very common case; alternate security arrangements for important documents need to be established if they do not exist. Adequate living facilities should include some secure place for workers’ valuables.

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010

V.4.

Q: Several participants asked about what SA8000 considers a ‘voluntary’ Q: In regards to freedom
Q: Several participants asked about what SA8000 considers a ‘voluntary’
Q: In regards to freedom of movement, do employees have the freedom to
Q: Why is human trafficking referred to in section 2.4 but not directly in
Q: Some companies have a recruitment procedure that employees cannot

letter.

This is not a concept acceptable within SA8000. Auditors need to rely on worker interviews, stakeholder input and the existence of a functioning complaints system in order to verify the voluntary nature of workers participation in overtime work or in compliance activities relating to the standard (e.g. the SA8000 worker representative).

V.5.

leave their workstation at any time to go to the toilets?

The freedom of movement clause is mainly to make explicit that workers need to be able to leave their place of work at the end of a standard work day or shift (e.g. usually 8 hours). It is also meant to ensure that workers are not locked into their workplace and can leave if necessary; e.g. in case of danger or threat to their person. As far as access to bathrooms, this is really an issue for health and safety, where workers’ physical wellbeing should be taken into account in setting such policies.

V.6.

section 2.2?

This is based on the drafters’ choice of organization and emphasis. All clauses are applicable; trafficking in human beings is an egregious crime that was thought to merit a distinct clause.

V.7.

leave their job until specified by the company due to the company’s payment of their training. Some companies do something similar after sponsoring training for workers, asking them to sign a contract to work for the company for 3 to 4 years. Is this allowed under SA8000?

If the employee really cannot leave the job at all, this would be a version of compulsory labor. In many cases, however, the employee risks only a bad recommendation or the loss of future opportunities with the company if they leave their job; then these are not cases of forced labor, as long as the employee voluntarily participated in the training and agreed to the contract terms. If however, the training was required to secure the job; or the workers are migrant workers with no way to return home, then this is very likely a form of forced labor. Auditors need to analyze the situation through both worker interviews and an analysis of the context, which may create pressures that de facto require the workers to take the training and/or then make it impossible for them to leave (e.g. if they have no legal status in the country and no way to return home).

With respect to training costs and the potential impact upon the termination of an employee’s contract it should be clear that the company is responsible for all costs to be incurred for a worker’s job related to training. Thus, the costs of such training shall not impede or delay the worker’s departure from a company should they decide to leave and

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010

shall in no way be tied to an obligation to pay such costs before the departure can take place. Contracts typically specify a time period, often 30 days, during which either the employee or employer can choose to terminate the contract upon notification of the other party.

writing and clearly understood by the worker. The funds expended by the employer, Q: If
writing and clearly understood by the worker. The funds expended by the employer,
Q: If a company makes an employee sign a resignation letter upon joining
is not uncommon, however, that a company will require a worker to stay until a
Q: Under the standard, what is the meaning of a personal loan?
personal loan with a company is when a company loans money to an individual

V.8.

Q: If an employer decides to pay for an employee to obtain a master’s degree

on the condition that the employee works there for at least 3 years or the employee

must pay the employer back, is this considered forced labor?

No, this is not considered forced labor if both parties agree to the terms, which should be

in

however, are similar to a loan, such that (as with any loan) both the lender and the borrower incur risks in the undertaking. The risks to the worker cannot, however, result in any form of compulsory labor. This means that the worker can default, risking only what is reasonable to expect or is defined in the contract (e.g. no future recommendations from the company).

V.9.

the company, is this acceptable under SA8000?

No, this is not at all acceptable under SA8000 because this employee is being forced to sign a letter that they do not necessarily want to sign and in many cases could be interpreted as the employee waiving his/her rights under/to specified disciplinary processes and procedures and legal severance payments or unemployment benefits, etc.

V.10.

Q: In some cases, employers ask employees who quit to work two extra weeks

while the company finds their replacement. Is this allowed under the standard?

As long as the employer ‘asks’ and does not ‘require or force’ the employee to work those two weeks, it is acceptable. If the employees do not voluntarily work for those weeks, this is not in accordance with the SA8000 standard. In some countries, giving an employer two weeks notice is common practice, but, note, this is normally part of previously, voluntarily agreed contract terms and, in any event, pay cannot be withheld for work already performed even if a worker leaves precipitously.

It

replacement for the position is found regardless of the time required, particularly with a skilled position in a tight labor market. This is not allowed under SA8000.

V.11.

A

worker.

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010

VI. Health and Safety

Q: Can an auditor skip the health and safety portion of the standard if the
Q: Can an auditor skip the health and safety portion of the standard if the
Q: What are the requirements of accident records under SA8000?
Q: Does the SA8000 standard distinguish between an incident and an
Q: Should hazard analysis be documented to be SA8000 certified?
Q: Should these instructions be written instructions?

Q: How frequently should a company provide health and safety training as

VI.1.

inspected company is OSHAS 18001 certified?

No, an auditor cannot skip the health and safety portion of the standard despite the overlap with OSHAS 18001. If a company is OSHAS 18001 certified, it might take an auditor less time to audit the company, provided the auditor has access to all relevant OSHAS documentation. For a company to be SA8000 certified, the auditor needs to verify the company meets all the requirements of SA8000.

VI.2.

At the minimum, accident records require the reason, cause, nature of accident, time, and name of person(s) involved in the accident. Further additions to the accident records are on a case by case basis.

VI.3.

accident?

No, the standard does not distinguish between an incident and an accident. It is important to keep track of all safety problems.

VI.4.

To be SA8000 certified, a hazard analysis should be performed and documented.

VI.5.

Q: Concerning section 3.3, the standard states that a company shall provide

to personnel on a regular basis effective health and safety instruction. This section does not mention training. Is training part of this instruction in the standard?

Yes, the health and safety instruction is a broader term, meant to include training as well as ongoing instruction. The concept is in line with the intent of the standard on health and safety: it is management’s responsibility to ensure precautionary measures are taken at all times. In many cases, regularly scheduled training may not be sufficient due to accidents, new technology, new personnel and elevated risk.

VI.6.

required in 3.3?

Training needs to be effective and the amount defined according to the situation and individuals involved. At the very least, in both SA8000:2001 and SA8000: 2008, annual training is required for permanent workers, and more frequent training for seasonal workers.

VI.7.

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010

Q: Is it acceptable for workers just to read the instructions? Q: The standard states
Q: Is it acceptable for workers just to read the instructions?
Q: The standard states that instructions shall be repeated for new and

In virtually all cases, yes, these instructions should be written instructions – in the language of workers – for the company to be SA8000 certified. Most importantly, workers should be able to explain to the auditors what the instructions are telling them to do and how they are to do it.

VI.8.

No, this is unacceptable. The on-site instructions should be provided in a formal communication process in which the instructions are repeated and the workers fully understand effective health and safety procedures. Often it is necessary and desirable for the company to conduct actual drills to reinforce the learning of workers and allow them the opportunity to put such procedures into practice.

VI.9.

reassigned personnel and in cases where accidents have occurred. Under the standard, should these instructions be repeated to the person involved in the accident or to all workers?

These instructions should be repeated to all workers (at risk for the same accident) for a company to be SA8000 certified. This will help avoid recurrence.

VI.10. Q: In regards to section 3.4, in the case of India, some companies provide housing for their employees and this could include upwards of 10,000 homes. Does the company have an obligation to monitor all accidents in these homes?

Yes, in order to be SA8000 certified, the company should track any accidents that occur within housing it provides. Again, this will enable management to minimize or eliminate recurrences by identifying causes and trends. (Note: it is important to distinguish here between housing provided by the company and housing given to workers by the company. Once the workers own the housing, the company is no longer in charge of the housing conditions and therefore is not expected to monitor accidents there.)

VI.11. Q: Is the personal protective equipment listed in section 3.5 meant to be provided free of charge to workers?

Yes, all personal protective equipment is free to all workers.

VI.12. Q: If a contractor provides the personal protective equipment for the workers, is the company still liable for what happens with the equipment under the SA8000 standard?

Yes, the company is still held responsible for the personal protective equipment, of both contracted and direct employees, under the SA8000 standard. The company must ensure that workers wear their protective equipment.

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010

VI.13. Q: How much medical treatment is necessary to give to a worker to be SA8000 certified?

is necessary to give to a worker to be SA8000 certified? At the very minimum, first

At the very minimum, first aid assistance should be provided. Follow-up medical treatment for an accident should also be provided. Long term medical treatment might be necessary if a serious injury occurs at the workplace.

VI.14. Q: The standard describes that companies must assist workers with their follow-up treatment. To what extent should company assist in this follow-up treatment to be SA8000 certified?

There is no firm definition in the standard as to what extent the company should assist with follow up treatment. The company should assist to the extent appropriate for the specific situation of the worker.

VI.15. Q: In regards to 3.6, why is it necessary to assess all risks to new and expectant mothers when most companies already assess risks for all their workers?

To be certified to the SA8000 standard, the company needs to complete a risk analysis for new and expectant mothers because: a) expectant mothers may be less able to do heavy lifting or remain standing for long periods of time and exposure to certain chemicals may be more dangerous for the development of the fetus than for adult workers; and b) such an assessment also helps demonstrate that an employer is supportive of keeping these women employed with the company.

VI.16. Q: What qualifies as a new mother and an expectant mother?

A new mother is a woman who has given birth or adopted a baby within the past 6 months; an expectant mother is a woman who is pregnant.

VI.17. Q: If an employment agency, not connected to the company, provides dormitories for workers, what should a company do in that case?

The company needs to ensure that any housing which the company finances/arranges, directly or indirectly, for its employees is safe and adequate. Auditors need to inspect and verify this.

VI.18. Q: Concerning section 3.9, the standard states all personnel shall have the right to remove themselves from imminent serious danger without seeking permission from the company. Under the standard, does “all personnel” refer to all workers?

Yes, “all personnel” refers to all workers, managers, and subcontractors on the premises.

VI.19. Q: In countries such as Morocco, the freedom of movement of women workers is restricted. They have to be back at their dormitory at nightfall, if not

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010

they have to sleep outside. Management has stated that this is for the workers’ own protection, as there seems to be a risk of prostitution in the area. Is this compatible with SA8000?

Freedom of Association & the Right to Collective Bargaining
Freedom of Association & the Right to Collective Bargaining

The company can and should ensure workers’ security, but cannot control what workers do in their free time. Also, it is worth noting the contradiction here: if the company is concerned about workers’ security, why do they make them sleep outside if they are not back by a certain time?

VII.

VII.1. Q: Can international consultants mandated by retailers give workers an overview about their options to organize when this information is not available to workers, or would this be a violation of freedom of association according to

SA8000?

It is desirable for workers to be informed as to their rights. It is not compliant with SA8000 for the company to arrange for such information to be provided in a biased manner. This information needs to be presented in an objective way, which ensures management does not seek to influence workers’ choice. To that end, transparency of the presentation is important. If the employer presents or invites in presenters on this subject (even if it is at the behest of international buyers) the company needs to recognize that there is potential for this to be misconstrued as ‘influencing’ workers. Employers need to ensure any message around these issues, in no way influences workers’ decisions.

VII.2. Q: In Pakistan, it is normal for management to facilitate workers to organize and have elections. From an auditor’s point of view, would this raise a problem?

Management interference in workers’ organizing and their decisions about collective representation violates ILO conventions (see Guidance 2004). In SA8000:2008 this is clearly stated. In previous versions of SA8000, managers were asked to facilitate ‘parallel means’ where workers’ rights to freedom of association was restricted by law, but this was only applicable to certain countries, never in Pakistan. This clause was never meant to mean the employer was to organize workers (see also SA8000 Guidance 2004).

In some countries, however, local law may require management to establish a worker welfare committee or health and safety committee. These committees are not a replacement for worker organizations, which then engage in collective representation and collective bargaining. These committees are formed in order to work on specific issues with management, not to bargain collectively (see also next question).

VII.3. Q: If workers elect a group of people to be on a committee that serves as a liaison between management and the workers, can this committee act as a trade union?

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010

No. A trade union has specific, defined, characteristics under national law. The committee can perform/serve other functions, but cannot fulfill the collective representation functions of a trade union, such as the negotiation of a legally binding contract covering wage and hour terms.

of a legally binding contract covering wage and hour terms. VII.6. Q: In SA8000:2001, the standard

VII.6. Q: In SA8000:2001, the standard stated that companies must respect the right of workers to form trade unions while SA8000:2008 states that companies should effectively inform workers they are free to join unions. Why did this change happen?

It is a clarification, in line with other changes in the standard where the requirements enable auditors to look for positive evidence of compliance. Also, in many countries where workers have previously been harassed or discriminated against for joining a trade union, management may need to reassure workers of their intent to respect these rights.

VIII. Discrimination

VIII.1. Q: Concerning 5.1 and 5.2 of the standard, how should a company fix a problem with a pattern of discrimination if there is no evidence of discrimination in the workplace? For example, if there are no women in high positions, but there are women in every other position?

The company should try to change this dynamic and question why there are no women in high positions. A best practice on this, for example, is to establish goals and plans for diversity in all job categories. In addition, ensuring equal opportunity requires equal access to training and non-discriminatory job descriptions. This also relates, in a way, to 9.1 of the standard, which states that companies should display the requirements of the SA8000 standard. For further information, refer to 9.1 of SA8000:2008.

VIII.2. Q: Should a company trying to get SA8000 certified have a written discrimination policy?

Yes, a company should have a written anti-discrimination policy that can be passed on to workers so that they understand the company’s stance on discrimination. This policy can also be a part of the broader SA8000 policy.

VIII.3. Q: If female workers earn 20% more than their male workers in a company, is this a form of discrimination under the standard?

It depends on: 1) the type of work performed; and 2) the policy to ensure equal access to all jobs by all employees. Per the reference to ILO Convention 100, SA8000 requires employers follow the principle of equal pay for equal work. Also, the company’s management systems and SA80000 policy should – where discrimination is entrenched traditionally – enable all workers access to all types of jobs, regardless of their personal characteristics.

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010 VIII.4. Q: What does “family responsibilities” mean in the context

VIII.4. Q: What does “family responsibilities” mean in the context of discrimination under the SA8000 standard?

In some countries, employers believe that workers with a family – primarily with children – are not going to work as hard as their single or non-parenting peers. An example of this type of discrimination would be if a worker were penalized for having to go home to take care of his/her sick parent or child.

VIII.5. Q: Up to which date should an employee inform her employer of her pregnancy status?

This is up to the worker. Note, with regard to clause 3.6 above, the protection of expectant mothers cannot require women to submit to pregnancy testing. If workers understand the precautions are for their own good and they are confident they will not be fired or demoted, then they’ll be more likely to inform their employer in a timely manner.

VIII.6. Q: If a company defines production bonuses based on attendance, and maternity leave is counted as an absence even when it is required by national law, could this be considered sexual discrimination?

In some countries, national law allows for maternity leave absences, deeming them compulsory and a right of the mother, and requiring the company to continue paying all or a portion of the mother’s normal compensation during that time. Thus, production bonuses based on attendance should be continued as well.

The SAI-AB committee noted that maternity leave is different from other forms of leave because it is something that can only correspond to women. To not allow for maternity leave (by additional reductions to women’s compensation during that time) would thus constitute a form of discrimination.

In any case, auditors and employers will need to consider this issue on a country by country basis and ensure they follow national law and benchmark their policies against industry standards or collective bargaining agreements in the sector.

VIII.7. Q: Would a company requiring employees to be tested for HIV, be a form of discrimination under the standard? What if it is government mandated to do HIV, pregnancy or other testing? What if all workers agree to take a Hepatitis B test?

Requiring any such personal tests would be discriminatory unless: a) it is mandated by law; or b) the information is necessary to protect other workers or clients. If mandatory, HIV testing might not be considered discriminatory, if: a) the information is handled according to government requirements; b) results are kept confidential; and c) workers are not discriminated against as a result.

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010

Disciplinary Practices Working Hours
Disciplinary Practices
Working Hours

VIII.8. Q: Under the standard, should an auditor check a company’s advertisements to hire personnel as a safeguard against discrimination?

Yes, auditors should check a company’s advertisement to hire personnel to ensure only requirements related to the ability to perform the job are included. For example, specific skills are appropriate requirements, but specific age spans are not.

IX.

IX.1.

Q: Disciplinary fines are permitted in SA8000:2008 in some cases. If there is

no collective bargaining agreement in place, but national law allows it and the union

members on the premises don’t object, can a company have a disciplinary fines policy?

No. Disciplinary fines are only permitted in cases where they are permitted under a defined set of circumstances, as outlined in national law AND a freely negotiated collective bargaining agreement.

X.

X.1. Q: In regards to working hours, what are the key differences between the 2001 version of the 2008 version of SA8000?

See the drafter’s notes available on the SAI website and the side by side comparison of SA8000:2001 and SA8000:2008, also available on SAI’s website.

X.2. Q: If workers do not clock in and out for their hours but they come to work every week, can a company with this system be SA8000 certified?

If there is no way to confirm that the number of working hours complies with the requirements, this company cannot be SA8000 certified.

X.3. Q: Normally, staff works overtime in many workplaces. Does a company seeking SA8000 certification need to check how much overtime the workers are doing and the proper compensation for that time?

Yes, the company should check both how much time is overtime and the proper compensation (at a premium rate) needs to be paid in order to be SA8000 certified. Note:

overtime hours must be: a) limited; b) voluntary; and c) compensated at a premium rate.

X.4. Q: If a country’s law allows workers to work for over 48 hours per week, could a company that follows this law be SA8000 certified?

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010

Q: Concerning section 7.2, in the SA8000 2001 standard, workers had to
Q: Concerning section 7.2, in the SA8000 2001 standard, workers had to

Q: Under what circumstances can a worker work overtime for more than 12

Only if the hours in the week over 48 are voluntary over time, compensated at a premium rate and limited to 12 hours per week.

X.5.

hours per week in an SA8000 certified facility?

This is not permitted; even the work time averaging permitted under the exception in 7.2 is restrained by the overall limit on overtime defined in 7.3.

X.6. Q: If the exception to 7.2 applies, are there limits of regular and overtime hours per week? Or number of weeks that can be averaged together?

SA8000 clauses 7.1 and 7.3 limit working time to a maximum regular working week of 48 hours plus 12 hours overtime per week. The exception in 7.2 is only providing flexibility on whether or not workers will work more than six days in a row without a day off. In these cases, auditors will need to verify that the collective bargaining agreement and national law allow for whatever exceptions are taken.

X.7. Q: SA8000:2008 refers to ILO convention 1, which places the limit of the working day to 8 hours per day, however such hour limit is not mentioned anywhere in the standard. Is there no limit on daily normal duration of work under SA8000?

This is not explicit in SA8000, but it is often mandated by national law. SA8000 only places an explicit limit on the standard work week not exceeding 48 hours, with at least one day off after every six days worked and a maximum of 12 hours of voluntary overtime.

X.8. Q: Do the limits on working hours and overtime under the SA8000 standard apply to managers? Are managers entitled to overtime pay?

Working hour limits, as well as overtime benefits, applies to managers who have a contract with defined working hours. A manager of the company, responsible for setting his or her work schedule and hours, is not necessarily subject to the limits of working hours set by the standard. In general, the understanding is that working hour limits do not necessarily apply to a manager who is significantly responsible for setting his or her work schedule and hours. SAI does strongly recommend however, that even these managers be encouraged to limit their hours and that appropriate management systems be put in place to help measure (and demonstrate) the productivity benefits of these limits. [See also forthcoming definition and SAAS advisory for a definition of the exempted managers.]

X.9.

have one day off in seven. Has this changed in the SA8000 2008 standard?

The language has changed to make it clearer, but the intent is the same. Section 7.2 of the 2008 SA8000 standard says that personnel shall be provided with at least one day off

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010

following every six consecutive days of working. Some employers were asking workers to work 12 days straight, instead of ensuring workers had one day off every seventh day. Exceptions to this rule apply only where both of the following conditions exist: a) National law allows work time exceeding this limit, and b) A freely negotiated collective bargaining agreement is in force that allows work time averaging, including adequate rest periods.

Q: What about workers in the oil industry that work 12 hours per day
Q: What about workers in the oil industry that work 12 hours per day

X.10. Q: If a worker chooses to work 12 days straight, and take 2 days off, do those days off have to be in the home?

No, that is not for anyone except the worker to decide. However, 12 consecutive days is generally not permitted unless both criteria under 7.2 are met. In the standard, there is no explicit language saying that the worker must take their days off in their home.

X.11. Q: If a worker works for 6 days and takes his/her rest day as a day “on-call”, is this allowed under the standard?

An “on-call” day does not qualify as a day off.

X.12. Q: Many drivers spend weeks driving and most have 8 to 10 hour rest stops during those weeks. Are these rest stops considered part of overtime under the SA8000 standard?

Rest stops are not considered part of working hours. Thus, these rest stops would not be part of a worker’s overtime hours.

X.13. Q: If there is both a negotiated collective bargaining agreement and national law in place, regarding working hours, which situation takes precedence?

In such situations, the national labor courts have jurisprudence. In general, for SA8000, whichever conditions are in the best interests of the worker should be followed/provided by the employer.

X.14.

during two weeks, after which they receive 2 weeks off, including other vacation periods throughout the year? If we take into account the time worked during the month?

As noted in X.6. above, the added flexibility in 7.2 is limited by the maximum number of regular working hours and overtime hours defined in clauses 7.1 and 7.3. There are some industry standards which allow for greater flexibility, such as the ILO Maritime Convention; SAI is considering such an extension of the standard, but it does not exist yet. It is worth re-stating: work-time averaging is only permitted within the structure of national law and if there is a collective bargaining agreement in place defining the terms of such averaging. Any time such averaging is agreed upon, however, auditors need to increase their attention during the audit to: 1) workers’ rights to freedom of association

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010

and collective bargaining (e.g. ensure the union and workers have been free of employer influence or interference); and 2) workers’ occupational safety and health is not compromised as a result of the working hours agreement (this includes ensuring adequate breaks).

hours agreement (this includes ensuring adequate breaks). X.15. Q: In Lithuania and some surrounding countries,

X.15. Q: In Lithuania and some surrounding countries, working 12 or 14 hours, two or three days a week and then having a rest day is allowed by national law. What would qualify as overtime per day in this case?

SA8000 does not specify what overtime should be on a daily basis; it expresses overtime in weekly terms. Overtime shall not exceed 12 hours per week. The question here is whether overtime applies; this gets to the heart of overtime hour averaging. One day of 16 hours and two days of 8 hours could be considered by some to be equal when they are not. Normally a regular work day is defined in the law to determine when overtime begins. In some North African countries, the law allows payment of overtime ONLY when the monthly allowance for working hours is exceeded; this would not be acceptable under SA8000.

X.16. Q: Are companies with flexible working hours agreed upon through collective bargaining (e.g. hour banking, compensatory rests) in violation of paying overtime hours at a premium rate?

No, because collective bargaining has defined a compensation for this flexibility in terms of: additional compensatory rests, additional personal freedoms in relation to working hour bonds or both. It is important to note, however, that when workers are given time off in exchange for overtime worked, that time off must still be given at a premium rate.

X.17. Q: In Italy, there is a national contract that permits workers to work over the amount of hours permitted by SA8000, but the contract is not a law. Does this contract still apply to 7.2 of the standard?

This particular case in Italy and this national contract needs to be explored by the Drafters of SA8000:2008 and the Italian trade unions to determine if any collective bargaining agreements have permitted such exceptions.

X.18. Q: In Bolivia, many security guards work as subcontractors 7 days a week for 60 hours a week. The guards voluntarily work the extra 12 hours a week and they usually do not have a trade union. Would this be a violation of the standard?

Yes, because they are not covered by a collective bargaining agreement made through a trade union; also there is no mention of national law permitting such a contract.

X.19. Q: In Sri Lanka, by law, female and younger workers have restrictions on the amount of overtime hours they can work; 14 hours per week. Male workers do not have these restrictions under the law. In this case, can this company still be SA8000 certified?

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010

Remuneration
Remuneration

SA8000 maximum overtime is less than that of the law, so the SA8000 limit applies, and it applies to all workers. In this case, the discriminatory rules for male and female workers do not matter. Thus, a company following the 14 hour system doesn’t qualify for SA8000 certification.

X.20. Q: Concerning section 7.4, how frequent are cases where overtime work is needed in order to meet ‘exceptional, short-term’ business demands under the standard?

It is important to note that the phrase refers to exceptional, short-term cases and that it is referring to cases where overtime can be required. In the majority of cases, overtime should be voluntary; and thus the exceptional, short-term cases where overtime must be required should be rare. Because in most cases, a production rush is seasonal and can be planned for; with proper planning and premium rate compensation for the overtime hours, there should be sufficient incentives to entice enough workers to seek the overtime hours in most cases.

X.21. Q: In China, there is a waiver that allows workers to work over 36 overtime hours per week during the high season demand. Would a company using this waiver be able to be SA8000 certified?

No, a company using this waiver would be unable to get SA8000 certified because this type of labor would be considered excessive overtime.

X.22. Q: In Romania, the normal work week is 40 hours per week. Some sectors allow people to work during peak season for 10 hours per day, for a total of 50 hours per week. Would this schedule be acceptable under the SA8000 standard?

All overtime must be: voluntary, limited, and compensated at a premium rate.

X.23. Q: If a company has workers with a collective bargaining agreement in conjunction with a trade union that says that 36 hours overtime per week during peak season is acceptable, would this company still be able to get SA8000 certified?

SA8000:2008 continues to limit the maximum number of overtime hours per week to 12.

XI.

XI.1. Q: What is the difference between SA8000:2001 and the new version with respect to living wages vs. basic needs wage?

There is no substantive difference. The new wording states that personnel have the right to a living wage which meets their basic needs.

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010

XI.2. Q: If workers agree, in a collective bargaining agreement, to a wage that is much lower than the normal living wage, is this acceptable under the SA8000 standard?

living wage, is this acceptable under the SA8000 standard? Provided the wage is not below the

Provided the wage is not below the legal minimum or industry standard wage, this might be acceptable but it is highly unlikely and should be reported to SAAS for review. If this wage is significantly below the industry standard or minimum wage, the auditors should verify that workers’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining are not being compromised or falsified in some way.

XI.3. Q: Can the legal minimum wage take the place of a living wage?

It is possible for a minimum wage to equal the living wage, but it is rare and it cannot negate the need for employers and auditors to assess workers’ needs and the adequacy of the wage.

XI.4. Q: If the basic needs wage is higher than the minimum wage for the employee, which wage should a company follow to be SA8000 certified?

As noted above, when legal compliance or the SA8000 standard is the minimum, the higher of the two prevails. A company needs to pay, or have a plan to increase wages to be equal with (per Guidance 2004), the basic needs wage for a regular work week to earn SA8000 certification. In the majority of cases, the basic living wage will be higher than the legal minimum wage.

XI.7. Q: If an independent employment company handles workers’ contracts, what role does the company being certified play with regard to the contracts?

The certified facility is responsible for ensuring these contracts are in line with SA8000 and that the workers are managed in line with the standard. See also control of suppliers under Management Systems in the SA8000 standard. The company should also verify that consecutive short term contracts are not used in order to evade other obligations that correspond to legal benefits due to workers or the SA8000 standard.

XI.8. Q: In countries where a premium rate for overtime is not regulated by law or a collective bargaining agreement, what rate should a company use? Is there a common international rate?

SA8000:2008 states that where a premium rate is not defined by law or a collective bargaining agreement, workers are to be compensated for overtime “at a premium rate that is greater than or equal to prevailing industry standards, whichever is more favorable to workers’ interests.” In some industries or countries, negotiated collective bargaining agreements have established premium overtime rates, which in turn define prevailing industry standards where there is no national overtime rate. There is no common international rate for overtime and SA8000 does not define a specific premium rate.

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010

Instead, the SA8000 normative elements direct employers to adhere to national law or prevailing industry standards, whichever is most favoable to workers.

industry standards, whichever is most favoable to workers. XI.9. Q: Are managers entitled to get overtime

XI.9. Q: Are managers entitled to get overtime pay?

Overtime benefits (and working hour limits) apply to all managers who have a contract with defined working hours. Managers of the company, responsible for setting their work schedule and hours, are not necessarily subject to the limits on working hours set by the standard. In some countries, like Malaysia, national law says managers are not entitled to overtime pay, but it does not forbid it. Thus an SA8000 certified facility can provide those benefits for managers as well.

XI.10. Q: What criteria must be adopted to prove if a company is using “consecutive short term contracts,” if it is not specified in national law?

It is necessary to know the number of contracts issued by a company within a one to three year period, and the number of short term contracts in comparison to permanent contracts, as well as the length of time between contracts to verify whether or not that company is willing to pay days when there is no work. Most importantly, auditors need to know what benefits workers accumulate over time in terms of insurance, severance or seniority; if these are compromised by short-term contracts, then the company cannot be certified.

XI.11. Q: In Italy, it is legally possible to have consecutive short-term contracts that can be used for up to 3 years. Does this comply with clause 8.5?

This might be acceptable if: 1) the law allows for this; and 2) workers still receive social security, retain their right to gain seniority, accumulate vacation and sick days, join a trade union and access all other benefits – and the contracts are not used for discriminatory purposes. In most places, this is not the case and thus it is likely that employers are using consecutive short-term contracts in order to “avoid fulfilling its obligations to personnel under applicable laws pertaining to labor and social security legislation and regulations.” This is then not in conformance with SA8000 clause 8.5.

XI.12. Q: Is there any exception for people working in the food industry with regards to deducting wages for properly packaged goods under the SA8000 standard?

No, there is not an exception under the SA8000 standard for workers in the food industry. The standard states that a company shall ensure that deductions from wages are not made for disciplinary purposes.

XI.13. Q: Under the SA8000 standard, can a company deduct a performance bonus from a poorly performing worker if that allowance is considered a bonus?

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010

Three points auditors should consider here: 1) Performance bonuses should not be calculated as part of the base wage, which on its own should equal a living wage. 2) The terms for earning a performance bonus should be clearly outlined in workers’ contracts and understood by workers. 3) The payment or non-payment of performance bonuses should be determined according to objective criteria and not influenced by any discrimination by management.

and not influenced by any discrimination by management. XII. Management Systems XII.1. Q: Concerning 9.1, can

XII. Management Systems

XII.1. Q: Concerning 9.1, can a company have something similar to a code of conduct but not necessarily in those exact words?

This requirement is about the company having a social accountability policy, which is displayed along with the SA8000 standard. In most cases SA8000 would be considered similar to a code of conduct. The policy statement is different; it is more about the process and systems in place in that particular facility for ensuring compliance with the standard.

XII.2. Q: Concerning 9.1, which states that management must continually improve, does the company need a document saying that it will continually improve to be SA8000 certified?

No, they do not need a written document but visible signs of improvement are necessary to maintain SA8000 certification over time. This progress should also be tracked and documented over time through the company’s management systems for internal reviews, preventive and corrective actions, etc.

XII.3. Q: Concerning 9.1, part E, why was “upon request” added?

Upon request was added so that if interested parties want to see a social policy, they can see it and review it. Furthermore, this was also included to address the needs of stakeholders who might also want to see the social accountability policy. An SA8000 certification is a proud achievement for any company and should be displayed publicly.

XII.4. Q: Concerning section 9.1E, a company must make its policy publicly available in an effective form and manner to interested parties, upon request. Under the new standard, what is the definition of publicly available?

Company policy should be available to anyone who asks for it – to workers and anyone both inside and outside the workplace.

XII.5. Q: If you have 20 or 30 employees of different nationalities, do you need to have the company’s policy toward social accountability in all 20 or 30 native languages of the employees to be SA8000 certified?

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010

Q: In a company that has a trade union representative, is it
Q: In a company that has a trade union representative, is it

SA8000 worker representative can never substitute for the role of a

Their “own” language refers to a language that the worker can easily understand in both verbal and written form. The policy and other key documents, such as procedures and work instructions, need to be accessible and easily understood by all workers in the facility.

XII.6. Q: Concerning section 9.3, can the SA8000 representative substitute for a trade union under the standard?

No, absolutely not. trade union.

XII.7 Q: Is there a difference between a SA8000 worker representative and a worker organization?

Yes, there is a significant difference. An SA8000 worker representative serves as a liaison between management and workers to communicate about challenges and efforts to ensure compliance with the standard. A worker organization is a group of workers that seeks jointly to improve their working conditions. The right to bargain collectively can only be secured by a worker organization, once that worker organization has secured representation of a required percentage of workers (defined by national law); reference to worker organizations and the right to collective bargaining in ILO materials are generally understood to refer to trade unions.

XII.8. Q: How many SA8000 worker representatives should there be?

The workers themselves are the only ones to determine who and how many representatives they elect to represent them in matters related to the SA8000 standard worker representative. The company should not select the worker representative/s nor should it set up a committee for workers to represent themselves or seek to influence workers’ choice in any way.

XII.9. Q: Is it possible to have two worker representatives?

Yes, this is possible if the workers choose to have two representatives. The new standard emphasizes the freedom of the workers’ choice.

XII.10.

mandatory that this representative become the SA8000 representative under the standard?

It is up to the union to fulfill this function or determine how to fulfill it. The union may decide with management that the SA8000 worker representative functions be covered within the normal trade union representation activities. Or they may decide to convene a company wide election to fill the seat. Whatever the decision, it is up to the elected worker representatives and management cannot interfere (per Conventions 87 and 98).

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010

If there is a trade union in place, and management proceeds to consult the workforce directly, instead of through the trade union, about how to fill the functions of the SA8000 worker representative, then management will be seen as initiating a secondary representation structure, possibly in competition with the trade union.

structure, possibly in competition with the trade union. XII.11. Q: Can the SA8000 worker representative be

XII.11. Q: Can the SA8000 worker representative be a manager?

No, the SA8000 worker representative can not be a manager. The worker representative must be part of the general working population. The SA8000 worker representative serves as a liaison between workers and management.

XII.12. Q: Can a secretary or office worker be a SA8000 worker representative?

Yes, they can be the worker representative. The SA8000 worker representative can be anyone from the ranks of workers.

XII.13. Q: Is there a minimum percentage of workers necessary to elect the SA8000 worker representative?

Under the SA8000 standard, there is no defined percentage of workers necessary to elect a SA8000 worker representative. Level of participation in the election of the worker representative is on a case by case basis.

XII.14. Q: How often should workers re-elect the SA8000 worker representative?

There are no requirements for the re-election of the SA8000 worker representative, but there should be some way for reflecting the changing opinions of workers over time. Ultimately, it will be up to the workers to define these structures.

XII.15. Q: Could the SA8000 worker representative be re-elected the same frequency as a trade union chairman?

Yes, this would be acceptable under the SA8000 standard.

XII.16. Q: What if workers elect more than 1 representative and an “SA8000 worker representative committee” results?

Such a committee – if it is formed through workers’ own initiative – is permissible, but it is not a substitute for a trade union nor should it be perceived to be one by management. Primarily, this means that the committee cannot negotiate wage and hour terms with the employer, nor receive financing from the company.

The company must have a clear policy on workers’ right to organize as permitted by national law. Workers are not required to have a trade union, but it is required that they are aware that they have the right to join or form one. Such policy must be effectively communicated to all workers employed by such company and workers must have access

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010

to relevant trade union representatives in their sector. It is management’s responsibility to communicate this effectively (per 4.1).

responsibility to communicate this effectively (per 4.1). XII.17. Q: If workers have a worker representative for

XII.17. Q: If workers have a worker representative for example, in health and safety, is an SA8000 representative still necessary under the standard?

If the workers decide not to have an SA8000 representative, then this is acceptable. As stated before, however, if workers choose not to have a SA8000 representative, that may well signal deeper problems within the company in terms of realizing their rights, grievance mechanisms, communications, etc.

XII.18. Q: In regards to the election of worker representatives, does SA8000 require management to: 1- Allow candidates to post notices during election campaigns, 2-provide time for workers to participate in the election proceedings without loss of pay, and 3-provide a facility to carry out the elections?

All three are reasonable to expect as evidence that the company is fulfilling the requirement to ‘allow workers to elect a SA8000 worker representative.’

XII.19. Q: What if there is more than 1 union at a certified facility?

When SA8000 refers to the union fulfilling the functioning of the worker representative, it refers to a representative union. National law usually establishes how the representation of multiple unions is to be structured.

XII.20. Q: If a trade union has a majority in a company but only 35% of workers belong to a single union, how does this company select a SA8000 worker representative and how many representatives should this company have?

There is no exact formula for this situation. The workers could elect representatives from each union or have one single representative that all workers agree upon. This situation should be decided by the workers and their elected representatives. Management need only demonstrate that they have provided the space/time and opportunity for workers to make these decisions.

XII.21. Q: In Italy and other countries, there are two levels of trade unions, one of which is chosen by territory. Can an SA8000 worker representative be chosen from this territorial union?

No, because the representative must work at the workplace. The regional or “macro” union, should however be able to speak with the workers at the workplace, as part of the company’s compliance with clause 4.1 and 4.3, especially where they have a broad representational function such as this.

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010

The standard does not forbid multiple representatives.
The standard does not forbid multiple representatives.

is up to the workers to decide how they want to organize the position of the SA8000

XII.22. Q: In India, a company can have employees from 20 to 30 trade unions, controlled at the national level. How does the company decide which trade union gets to elect an SA8000 representative?

It

worker representative should be a worker at the facility and not from a national level office of a recognized branch of a trade union.

is the workers’ choice whom they select as their worker representative, and such

XII.23. Q: What if workers request an external person, someone who does not work in the office as their SA8000 representative?

If

SA8000 representative from their peers – as long as that person works within their facility.

workers choose to have a SA8000 representative, then workers must elect their

XII.24. Q: What if the facility has multiple sites and many workers at each?

It

worker representative.

XII.25. Q: Should a small company with workers belonging to different unions, but with no union representatives at the company, be considered unionized? In this case, may the SA8000 worker representative be directly elected by workers (union and non-union workers)?

A

to

multiple unions may have secured these rights and then national law usually indicates how those unions are to work together (e.g. either ceding to the largest union or co- negotiating the collective bargaining agreement). In those cases, it is up to the unions to fill the SA8000 worker representative function or set it up for a vote among all workers.

representative union is understood as a union that has sufficient members in the facility

have acquired collective bargaining rights according to national law. In some cases,

XII.26. Q: Should a company, where only a small part of the workforce is unionized and has elected an SA8000 worker representative, allow the majority of workers (not members of any union) to elect additional SA8000 worker representatives?

No, this is not allowed for the same reasons expressed in the question above.

XII.27. Q: When there is more than one union representative in a company, and for reasons concerning conflicts between unions, an agreement is not found regarding the choice of the workers elected to be the SA8000 worker representative, should management allow all union representatives to take part in the periodical control of SA8000 audits?

When there is no SA8000 worker representative, best practice is for the company to include all the union representatives in the auditing process. Where this is not tenable,

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010

due to the number of unions present, management will need to negotiate a more practical solution with the workers.

to negotiate a more practical solution with the workers. XII.28. Q: In Lithuania, some companies have

XII.28. Q: In Lithuania, some companies have no unions and workers do not want to elect a SA8000 representative because they feel the company already has very open communication despite the company suggesting that they elect a representative. Could a company still get SA8000 certified if workers choose not to elect a representative?

Yes, but auditors will be expected to check and report back why such a situation does not indicate communications or other problems within the workplace.

XII.29. Q: In Morocco, there are large citrus plantations that are made up of day workers who do not have an SA8000 representative. Is this acceptable under the new standard?

No. The day workers need to be trained to understand the SA8000 standard and have equal access to the services of the SA8000 representative, as would any other worker on the premises.

XII.30. Q: What if a company has no SA8000 worker representative and no trade union, but the employees can freely negotiate collective bargaining agreements with management. Could a company be SA8000 certified under these conditions?

No. The right to collective bargaining is defined by law and acquired by a trade union once it has met certain requirements (e.g. having a certain percentage of the workforce signed on as formal members of the union). Free or open negotiations of contracts is not the same thing as exercising the right to collective bargaining.

XII.31. Q: In the example of a factory where workers are not organized collectively prior to SA8000 implementation, there is no independent trade union active in their sector and/or freedom of association is restricted in their country. An SA8000 worker representative is elected and workers decide they would like to bargain collectively with management, asking their elected SA8000 representative to conduct the negotiations. Is this permitted under the SA8000 standard?

No. This is a direct violation of SA8000:2008 clause 9.3. The last sentence explicitly prohibits the SA8000 worker representative from fulfilling the role of trade union representation. In countries where freedom of association is restricted by law, companies are still required to allow workers to organize, but management cannot then prescribe or even recommend how workers structure that organizing (e.g. by building on a management systems mechanism such as the SA8000 worker representative).

XII.32. Q: In section 9.4 of SA8000:2008, it states that the SA8000 representative should attend the management review. Does this representative need to be involved in every aspect of management meetings?

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010 The worker representative should participate in the review, but the

The worker representative should participate in the review, but the representative does not need to be involved in every aspect of management meetings.

XII.33. Q: For the management review, what items are considered inputs and outputs?

Inputs could be internal audits, worker representative, customer compliance, NGOs, key process indicators, etc. Outputs could be plans, strategies, activities, time frames, etc.

XII.34. Q: Should companies communicate discussions at the management reviews to all workers?

The main results should be reported back to all workers, through the worker representative, as well as other possible avenues for communications

XII.35. Q: How far does a first-tier supplier need to go in order to make a reasonable effort to ensure that sub-suppliers meet SA8000? How far must their “sphere of control and influence” extend?

As a first step, all suppliers must provide the company with a written statement that expresses the supplier’s commitment to conform to SA8000 requirements. The company can include such a clause in its purchasing contracts and ask that suppliers provide a written commitment that they will require the same of their sub-suppliers. In addition, suppliers and sub-suppliers should identify the root causes of possible non-conformances with SA8000, repair them and implement a plan to prevent such from happening in the future, as well as inform the customer company on the steps they have taken to put this three-part plan in effect. SAI recognizes that the degree of control suppliers can have over sub-suppliers may at times be limited. However, through steps described above, the supplier can demonstrate to the company that it makes a reasonable effort to adhere to SA8000 and asks that their sub-suppliers do the same.

XII.36. Q: What if a few field suppliers, critical to the company, do not fully follow the SA8000 standard, what should the company do?

Citing 9.8 of SA8000:2008, the company should try to ensure that these field suppliers take steps towards meeting the SA8000 standard. Section 9.9 of SA8000:2008 also applies. Thus the company must make a good faith effort, within its scope of influence. Over time, a certified company would be likely to seek out better performing suppliers.

XII.37. Q: Do subcontractors need to be visited and checked by auditors?

As in the previous standard, the company is responsible for checking up on subcontractors. It is not within the purview of the auditor to check on a supplier but rather to assure that such checks are made adequately by the certified facility.

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010

compliance with the standard; this may be through personal visits, documentation or
compliance with the standard; this may be through personal visits, documentation or

company seeking certification must take reasonable steps to ensure their suppliers are

XII.38. Q: Concerning section 9.5 of the standard, in Bolivia, some companies need to offer transportation to and from the worksites. Thus, an unannounced visit, the second visit according to SA8000; cannot take place. What should be done in this case?

There is an advisory issued by SAAS with respect to this question as it has been demonstrated that there are valid situations which could preclude an unannounced visit. Guidelines have now been sent to each certification body with acceptable parameters for exceptional treatment of such accounts when and if they arise.

XII.39. Q: In parts of China, companies are required to get guard services but in most areas, they can only use one specific company. If that guard service company takes money from the company’s workers, can the company still be SA8000 certified?

No, this company can not be SA8000 certified. It is up to the certified company to ensure that workers’ rights are respected by the company managers as well as any other authority on site.

XII.40. Q: Do companies need to conduct internal audits?

Yes, companies should conduct internal audits. They should do them frequently enough

to

referred to in the standard as “continuous monitoring” of the system under paragraph 9.5

ensure that the system is being maintained, at least on an annual basis. This was always

d. in the section on management systems

XII.41. Q: Is formal internal auditing not emphasized in the 2008 SA8000 standard?

Section 9.5 of the standard cites continuous monitoring of activities; an internal audit is considered the way to achieve this.

XII.42. Q: Is a company required to visit their suppliers under the SA8000 standard?

A

in

requiring a second or third party audit. Auditors are not obligated to visit these suppliers,

but to verify the steps taken by the company where adequate.

XII.43. Q: In section 9.6, companies are required to consult the SA8000 Guidance Document. Can companies still be certified if they consult only the standard?

The company must consult the SA8000 Guidance Document to get certified. The 2004 Guidance is now available free of charge on SAI’s website. Supplements to this

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010

document, which specifically reference updates in SA8000:2008 include the present “FAQs” document and the SA8000:2008 Drafters Notes; both are available free of charge on SAI’s website.

Notes; both are available free of charge on SAI’s website. XII.44. Q: Is it required for

XII.44. Q: Is it required for a company to have the SA8000 Guidance Document on the premises of the company?

Yes. It can be in electronic format.

XII.45. Q: Under the standard, if a company hires a transport company to bring workers to work daily, does this transport company fall under the control of suppliers?

Yes, this transport company would be considered a critical supplier and would fall under the control of suppliers section of the SA8000 standard.

XII.46. Q: Concerning section 9.12, corrective action is an immediate response to a situation and preventive action is preventing a situation that has not yet happened. Can you do one action but not the other?

Effective corrective action requires a “fix” that will minimize the risk of recurrence and thus should be considered preventive in nature. A corrective action cannot be effective unless it is also preventive in nature. However, it is possible to implement a preventive action by itself without having to invoke any type of corrective action. Best practice requires both approaches; thus SA8000 connects them directly in the standard.

XII.47. Q: Concerning section 9.14, how can companies demonstrate willingness to participate in dialogues with stakeholders?

Companies should show a good faith effort. An example would be a company’s acknowledgement of complaints from stakeholders to demonstrate willingness to participate in dialogue. Of course, workers and neighbors are among the key stakeholders.

XIII. General Questions

XIII.1 Q: Will there be a new Guidance Document for the 2008 SA8000 standard?

There will be a shortened type of guidance document and this list of Frequently Asked Questions for SA8000:2008. These FAQs will be posted on our website, and periodically updated and supplemented. Guidance will be updated on a topic specific basis, and users will be asked to check periodically for new information and learning. The 2004 Guidance Document will be available free of charge on SAI’s website. It should be used only in conjunction with the Frequently Asked Questions plus any and all shortened guidance documents issued by SAI.

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010

SA8000:2008 F.A.Q. – Posted January 2010 XIII.2. Q: How often should a company write a social

XIII.2. Q: How often should a company write a social accountability report under the standard?

There is no requirement under SA8000 for management to issue a comprehensive report, but best practice is for a company to issue a social accountability report on an annual basis. It needs not be a long document; it should include an annual summary of the use of the standard.

XIII.3. Q: How long are the old SA8000:2001 certificates valid?

All existing certifications must be converted to the new version of the standard by March 31 , 2010 regardless of their initial certification date.

XIII.4. Q: How do you make workers talk about their jobs if they are under pressure to maintain their jobs?

This is always a concern when companies want to be SA8000 certified. For this reason, auditors must place emphasis on interviews with workers and external sources to better understand the situations workers face within the company.