Dated 14th October 2011

In 1997, Social Accountability International (SAI) started to develop a cross-sectoral standard for auditing and certifying corporate responsibility known as SA 8000. This standard focuses on the social performance of a company and, in particular, of manufacturers and suppliers. The SA 8000 is continuously developed and revised in close cooperation with companies, consumer groups, non-governmental organizations, trade unions, governmental agencies and certification bodies. It includes principles on Child Labour, forced Labour, Health and Safety, Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining, Discrimination, Discipline, Working Hours, Compensation, and Management Systems. These principles are based on the core ILO Conventions, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the most relevant Conventions of the United Nations.

-Should suppliers be obliged or wish to become SA 8000 certified, they must assess their practices and policies against the requirements of the standard. The standard is verification process is evidence-based, which means that the burden of proof is on the supplier. As result, suppliers should maintain appropriate records and ensure access to their premises and to reasonable information required by the auditor in order to demonstrate conformance to the requirements. In addition, the supplier should pledge to make reasonable efforts to ensure that the requirements of this standard are being met by its own suppliers and subcontractors within its sphere of control and influence.


When a supplier wishes to seek SA 8000 certification, the process starts with an application to an auditing firm or certification body accredited by the Social Accountability Accreditation Services (SAAS). These are the only organizations entitled to assess compliance with the standard and, if appropriate, to issued an SA 8000 certificate. The SAAS recommends contacting at least three such auditing firms to compare the cost of certification services. The fee is determined by each individual auditor and varies according to the size, scope and location of the factory, and the number of days the auditor needs to conduct the audit. The fee typically ranges between US$1500 and US$1500 per day. Global costs associated with obtaining certification include:

  • The cost associated with taking corrective and preventive action in order to qualify for compliance; After this, an organization would seed verification of its compliance
  • The cost of preparing for the audit
  • The cost of an independent audit by an SAAs-accredited Certifying Body
  • The cost associated with taking corrective actions to resolve problems (if non-conformances have been identified)

If a certificate is issued, the facility is required to make its certification public. The certificate is valid for three years, with surveillance audits necessary every six months. If problems are found during a surveillance audit, or a complaint is received, the auditors may return sooner.

The Social Accountability International Organization offers practical training with the aim of improving understanding of the standard and the social performance of suppliers. It also organizes CSR Awareness Seminars, based on best practices, on integrating CSR into existing business operations. As of 31 December 2009, SAAS accredited bodies had certified a total of 2103 facilities, with around 1.2 million employees. These facilities are spread over 63 different countries and 66 types of industries.

 Note: These are excerpts from the Guide on Private Standards recently published by UNIDO.



Disclaimer: please refer to official sources before effecting a decision.

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