What is SA 8000 certification?
The SA 8000 certification is an abbreviation for the Social Accountability Certification. This certification represents the international standards for proper work ethics and decent morals, followed by an organization. These standards have been developed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Labour Organisation (ILO), and the respective domestic country's national laws.
The SA 8000 is a compliance-related to respecting human rights in the workplace. The certification's main aim is to ensure that there is some form of continuous improvement is present when it comes to human rights in an organisation. Through the certificate, the standards of a workplace business can be improved.
Main Regulatory Authority / Body for SA 8000 certification
The primary regulatory authority for SA 8000 certification is an institution known as the Social Accountability International (SAI). This organization is a global non-governmental organization that ensures that compliance is maintained for human rights at workplaces. This institution was started in 1997. The main aim of this institution is to ensure that workplaces around the world are socially responsible. This institution is a US-based charity organization [501(C) 3].
Benefits of taking the SA 8000 Certification
The following benefits are present for taking the SA 8000 Certification:
Having the SA Certification would create a strong and positive impact on your organization. It would improve the reputation of the organization on the global front. Apart from this, the following benefits would be secured through the SA 8000 certification:
- Efficient and effective management to carry out the work on behalf of the organization.
- Improved corporate governance systems in the organization.
- Increased supply chain performance and control in the organization.
- An increased retention rate of employees in the organization.
- Increased reputation in the eyes of global companies and international suppliers
Organizations that have the SA Certification would benefit improved compliance systems related to labour laws. An organisation having this certification will make workers motivated to carry out their respective roles. The following benefits are provided through the SA certification for workers:
- Improved conditions when it comes to worker safety.
- Health protocols are followed by an organisation.
- Living wages are provided under compliance with respect to national and international laws
- More reputation for the organization when it comes to employment.
- Through this certification, relationships with upper management can be improved.
Brands and Retailers
The SA 8000 certification would not only benefit manufacturing organizations but will also indirectly affect different third parties such as brand advertisers, as well as retailers. The following benefits are got from the certification:
- The brand advertiser and the retailer can maintain comprehensive compliance.
- Assurance when it comes to compliance with labour laws.
- Compliance for supplier ownership.
- Consumers will recognize that these products are branded and certified as per the respective international authorities.
International Statistics for SA Certification
More than 61 countries in the world are members of the SAI institution. This shows that companies present in member countries can secure the SA Certification to ensure compliance with the relevant labour and international working laws. There are more than 4000 organizations in the world having this certification. In the previous quarter of 2020, more than 200 certifications have been issued to organizations worldwide.
Most organizations that form a part of the manufacturing and supply chain process should ensure that this form of certification is crucial for the organization's well-being.
Elements for the SA 8000 Certification
Every organization that requires the SA certification must ensure that compliance is maintained when it comes to ensuring the minimum standards required for workplace ethics. The organization has to prove the following requirements have to be shown by an organization to comply with the Social Accountability Certification:
Any child who is below the minimum age should not be allowed to work. As per the ILO convention 146 recommendation, the minimum age is the main criteria for a child to work. Under the SA, the definition of a child includes an individual below the age of 15. However, there are certain exceptions to this when it comes to the precedence of national law. According to some national laws, the definition of a child would include an individual who has not crossed the age of 14 years. However, ILO 138 recommendation would come into the picture when it comes to exceptions.
Minimum Criteria for Child Labour (SA 8000 )
- No child must be engaged in the work as per the above definition.
- If any organization employs a child to perform industrial work, the same must not be carried out further. The organization or the company employing the child must have a document that will help correspond with interested parties when it comes to remedying such measures. Measures such as requiring the child to attend school would come into force.
- As per the ILO recommendation 146, the company must ensure that children are provided mandatory education.
- The company or organization must document that no child below the minimum age is allowed to work. Apart from this, during school hours, the child must not be engaged in carrying out work for an industry.
- No child should be allowed to work in an industry that is manufacturing products where hazardous.
Forced or Compulsory Labour
Forced Labour can be understood as any form of work carried out by a child through force or some form of undue influence. Apart from this, the child has not voluntarily adopted to carry out the work by himself. Forced or compulsory labour can be in the form of a penalty or a repayment of debt for carrying out a particular service.
Minimum Criteria for the Forced or Compulsory Labour (SA 8000)
- Any organization or company must not engage the child or individual in the process of forced or compulsory labour.
- No form of document or bond must be given to the child when using the services.
Health and Safety
Health and Safety, which is taken by the company or the organization, will include all the minimum standards which are required by a company to avoid any industrial accidents.
Minimum Criteria for Health and Safety (SA 8000)
- If an organization or industry has all the information regarding the workplace procedures, then all precautions must be taken by the organization to provide health and safety equipment to the workforce. This would be required to mitigate and minimize the apparent risks that are present in an organization.
- An executive (senior management) must be appointed by the company to ensure that compliance is maintained as per the required health and safety standards.
- The company must ensure that all the workers in the industry receive some form of training. The training sessions which are provided must be updated according to the industry.
- The company must establish specific systems to ensure that health and safety compliance is maintained at all times.
- The organization or company must ensure that proper accommodation must be provided to workers to carry out their activities.
Freedom of Association and Right to Collective Bargaining
Forming associations and groups is one of the human rights that have to be within an organization's framework. As a part of SA 8000 certification, association and collective bargaining are rights that have to be present in workplaces.
Minimum Criteria for Freedom of Association and Right to Collective Bargaining (SA 8000)
- The company must allow the employees to form unions and associations if required.
- If the freedom of forming unions, association, and collective bargaining is restricted under the respective domestic law, organizations must facilitate means to carry out employees' rights.
- Representatives of such groups must not be discriminated against on any grounds with respect to representing the association.
Discrimination can be either directly or indirectly. The company or organization must not practice any form of workplace discrimination. Discrimination in the workplace also forms a part of the SA 8000 certification.
Minimum Criteria for Discrimination (SA 8000)
- No discrimination should be allowed in any form when it comes to the following:
f) Marital Status;
h) Political Affiliation; and
- An organisation must not get involved with workers' practices related to race and religion.
- An organization must not allow any form of sexual behaviour that is unlawful in the law's eyes. This would also include coercive behaviour.
While discipline is required in any industry or organization, disciplinary practices such as physical violence or punishment are not allowed. For securing the SA 8000 certification, an organization must not have discriminatory practices such as those mentioned under the minimum criteria.
Minimum Criteria for Disciplinary Practices (SA 8000)
- The organization must not have disciplinary practices such as corporal punishment, mental and physical abuse.
Every organization must have an optimum working hour’s policy to respect the rights of workers.
Minimum Criteria for Working Hours (SA 8000)
- Workers should not be allowed to work more than 48 hours per week.
- All individuals must be provided with at least one day off after seven consecutive working days.
- Overtime work must be reimbursed as per the industrial standards.
- If an organization is a party to the collective bargaining agreement, overtime work would be subject to specific conditions.
Remuneration can be understood as the minimum wage paid for services rendered by the employees or the workforce. To get the SA 8000 certification, the organization must satisfy the minimum criteria.
Minimum Criteria for Remuneration (SA 8000)
- Minimum wages must be paid to all the workers.
- Wages must be provided according to the work that is carried out. The company or organization must ensure that the employees' wages must be commensurate to the work that is carried out. Wages paid to workers in an organization must be paid either in cash or cheque form.
- A company must not carry out any form of false apprenticeship schemes and ensure that compliance is maintained under the respective laws.
Management represents the top of the company in the hierarchy. Management of the company must be accountable for all the actions which are carried out by the organization.
Minimum Criteria for Management (SA 8000)
- Management must ensure that they are committed to the organization.
- Management should comply with the domestic and international laws which apply to the organization.
- All the information related to the company must be documented and kept in records by the management.
- Management must ensure that the organization seeks out the goals for continuous improvement.
- Apart from the above, the management has to take part in the following for the organization's development:
a) Review the procedures;
b) Appoint Senior Representatives of the company;
c) Make an action plan and implement the same;
d) Have systematic control when it comes to subcontractors and supply chain in the organization; and
e) Find out measures to mitigate apparent risks that are present in an organizational framework.
Apart from the above elements, an organization that requires SA 8000 certification must abide by the rules and laws laid down by the ILO.
Procedure for SA 8000 application
To apply for the SA certification, the following procedure has to be followed:
SA 8000 Certification – Self Assessment Form
To fulfil the criteria, the organization must fill in the online self-assessment form. This will help the organization understand if they meet compliance under the certification. For carrying out this process, the organization or company has to pay USD 300 online. This step normally takes only 60 to 90 minutes to complete.
Contact Accreditation Body
Once the above step is carried out, the organization must contact a certified accreditation body. Each body is independently managed, and SAI recommends contacting a respective accreditation body.
SA certificate Audit
The authorized certification body will carry out audits:
This will typically take about one or two days.
If companies pass the requirements which are carried out in Stage 1, then Stage 2 audit will be conducted. In stage 2 audit, a fully comprehensive analysis will be conducted regarding the company. The stage two audit processes will take about 8 to 10 days.
In both these audit stages, an independent analysis will be conducted to understand the strengths and weaknesses.
If the certifying body finds that the organization has carried out necessary steps to meet the SA 800 certification, it must be granted to the organization.
The SA 8000 certification would be valid for three years. The authority will conduct monitoring on the organization if compliance is met.
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