The SA 8000 standard
What is the SA 8000 standard ?
S.A = Social Accountability
The SA 8000 is an auditable social standard with universal vocation based uppon theconcept of corporate social responsability and focused on working conditions. It was developped from requirements contained in some Work International Conventions and in the standard ISO 9000 at the initiative of aprivate American organization, the CEPAA, which ensure the marketing and the control, for thecertification of good social practices of companies that comply it.
- An auditable social standard with universal vocation :
SA 8000 is the first social standard with an independent audit process and which coversthe production of goods and the provision of services in humaly acceptable working conditions, by any company, anywhere in the world.
It is necessary to specify that agriculture, extractive industries (mining and oil) and home work are not covered by SA 8000.
- A standard based on the concept of corporate social responsibility:
The concept of corporate social responsibilityis based on the alleged existence of an implicit contract between the Company and the society according to which the company has obligations toward the society which has the right of controlling it. According to this principle, the company is not judged only depending on its economical and financial results ; it also has to answer to some social requirements like respect for fundamental human rights at work, of the environment and of the collective interests of the society where it is. This concept is behind a trend of opinion in the USA and in Europe. It developed itself at the initiative ofnongovernmental organizations It developed itself at the initiative of nongovernmental organizations which are dedicated to the defense and the promotion of these rights. They generally usepressure of their members and of the public opinion for to really make these right applied.
Thereby the concept of social responsibility refers to anethical requirement which is not limited to the strict application by a company ofits legal obligations. It involves anethical behavior and compliance with a number of universal values.
Although the terms of social responsibility are integrated in the title of the standard SA 8000, this one concerns in fact only work conditions and workers rights. The standard SA 8000 suggests that this is indeed an element of social responsibility and that other social responsibility standards could be developed and disseminated subsequently.
What are the requirements ?
Companies which join the SA 8000 commit to:
- Not use child force labor
- Not use forced labour force
- Procure to its employees a healthy and safe work environment and to take adequate measures to avoid accidents and bodily injuries
- Respect the right of all personnel to form and join unions of their choice and proceed tocollective negotiations
- Not admit discrimination in the recruitment, the remuneration, the access to formation or to promotion depending on criterion of race, religion, national origin, handicap, sex, sexual orientation, union membership or political affiliation
- Not use bodily punishment, mental orphysical coercion andverbal insult
- Not constrain personnel to work in a regular way more than48 hours by week, and accord it aweekly rest of minimum one day
- To grant the personnelwages at least equal to the legal minimum
- Have a management system involving :
- a policy of social responsibility and work condition
- the appointment of a chief executive for the implementation of this policy
- periodic verification of the adequacy and effectiveness of this policy
- continuous improvement of the results
In addition, companies that adhere to the standard are committed to meeting the requirements of social responsibility listed above by their suppliers and subcontractors and provide evidence that these commitments are kept.
SA 8000 finality is the certification of good social practices of companies which comply it and which can claim thissocial label to their customers and shareholders, to guarantee that they are "socially responsible" and that the work conditions of their personnel are decent and humanly acceptable.
So the certification allows to demonstrate, evidence to support, that the company do what it is supposed to do, and to guarantee in some way "the social quality of the company's management ".
certification is done byindependent organisms of the SAI (Social Accountability International).
These organisms are accredited and habilitated to perform the audits and to grant the certification when conformity is established, being specified that the SAI which accredit them retains for them the power to control.
The accreditation of SAI certification organisms is conditioned by the verification of their professionalism, their impartiality and their capacity to lead audits according to the rules.
The Certification is available for a limited period (3 years) during which possibilities of verification are planned. The renewal of the certification needs of course the use of a new audit.
Why and in what context the SA 8000 has it been created ?
The emergence of SA 8000 comes at a period whereglobalization increases the demand for social protection of workers, wherever they are, according to internationally recognized standards.
This demand is primarily the result ofpressures from consumers. Indeed, today, theconsumers choices are not made just according to the quality/price ratio but also and more and more byreferences to value systems, like the Human Rights, the environment, the intern practices of the companies, and the respect of the fundamental rights of workers by those one.
This requirement from consumers comes to enforce the one expressed since a while by governments and syndicates from industrialized countries in favor of aninternational system of social protection to prevent that commercial competition does take place at the expense of working conditions and social progress.