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What is SA8000?

SA8000 is the first auditable standard in this field. In particular, it is companionable with ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and OHSAS18001 structure and based on conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

SA8000 is a inclusive, universal, supportable standard for auditing and certifying fulfillment with corporate responsibility. It is applicable to both small and large companies that want to demonstrate to customers and other stakeholders that they care. The heart of the standard is the belief that all workplaces should be managed in such a manner that basic human rights are supported and that management is prepared to accept accountability for this.

An International Perspective

The standard was initiated by Social Accountability International (SAI). SAI is a non-profit organization dedicated to the development, implementation, and oversight of voluntary verifiable social accountability standards.

The SA8000 system is modeled after the established ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 standards for quality and environmental management systems. The standard was developed and field-tested by the non-profit Council on Economic Priorities (CEP), and assisted by an international advisory board including representatives of prominent corporations, human rights organizations, certification professionals, academics, and labour.

SAI has accredited a few certification bodies/registrars, including DNV, to audit and issue accredited certificates.

Incorporating International Labour Rights

The standard is based on a number of existing international human rights' standards including the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. SA8000 provides transparent, measurable, verifiable standards for certifying the performance of companies in nine essential areas:

1. Child Labour. Prohibits child labour (under age 15 in most cases). Certified companies must also allocate funds for the education of children who might lose jobs as a result of this standard.
2. Forced Labour. Workers cannot be required to surrender their identity papers or pay "deposits" as a condition of employment.
3. Health and Safety. Companies must meet basic standards for a safe and healthy working environment, including drinkable water, restroom facilities, applicable safety equipment, and necessary training.
4. Freedom of Association. Protects the rights of workers to form and join trade unions and to bargain collectively, without fear of reprisals.
5. Discrimination. No discrimination on the basis of race, caste, national origin, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, union membership, or political affiliation.
6. Disciplinary Practices. Forbids corporal punishment, mental or physical coercion and verbal abuse of workers.
7. Working Hours. Provides for a maximum 48-hour work week, with a minimum one day off per week, and a cap of 12 hours overtime per week remunerated at a premium rate.
8. Compensation. Wages paid must meet all minimum legal standards and provide sufficient income for basic needs, with at least some discretionary income.
9. Management. Defines procedures for effective management implementation and review of SA8000 compliance, from designating responsible personnel to keeping records, addressing concerns and taking corrective actions.