Fair Wear Foundation & Workers Rights Consortium Verification

How standards implemented/verified by FWF (Core Policy)

1) Credibility:
FWF’s multi-stakeholder make-up means that it is independent and credible. People have a right to know under what circumstances their clothes are made.

FWF also verifies at the company level to check whether companies implement the FWF Code of Labour Practices in their management systems effectively.

2) Factory Audits:
FWF prefers to assemble teams of individuals from different organizations and with different specialisations for this purpose. These teams are drawn from its "local partner networks" (organisations and/or individuals) that it has established in various countries.
FWF’s factory auditing serves two main purposes. For factories, it is a process leading to workplace improvements (and not some policing exercise). For companies, factory verification visits also serve as an indication of an affiliated companies’ performance in upholding its FWF commitments.

3) Interviews with workers:
FWF’s practice of interviewing workers offsite prior to visiting factories generally addresses the common pitfalls others encounter when they announce visits, namely coached workers and falsified books.
“The offsite interview itself is a fantastic procedure. When you join workers in their homes or community, you pick up issues you may not be able to pick up on the day of the factory audit.” – Bobby Joseph, Lead Auditor and Health and Safety Inspector, Bangalore, India.

4) Interviews with trade union/ worker representatives:
FWF’s audit guidelines require auditors to interview trade union (on occasions when there is a factory union) and/or worker representatives. Trade union representatives should also participate in the audit exit meeting, where audit outcomes and improvements to workplace conditions are discussed. Likewise, by seeking to involve member companies in the audit process, company representatives gain a deeper understanding of the problems in the sector and their underlying root causes.

5) Complaints Process:
The Foundation has a worker and third-party complaints mechanism to address problems in a member company's supply chain. FWF’s complaints procedure serves as a safety net.
In every country where it is active, FWF has a local complaints handler. This ensures that workers making products for FWF affiliates can safely and fairly seek redress for violations of the Code.

All FWF complaints handlers:

  • Are accessible: Because they are based locally, they can be reached in the time zone and on a local number. In most cases, complaints handlers are also the worker interviewer during audits, which means workers have seen them and can put a face to the name on the information sheet.
  • Can understand: They speak the local language(s) and English, allowing them to follow up on details with workers, FWF staff, and FWF affiliates. This means better and faster follow up.
  • Are trustworthy: Handlers are usually female representatives from labour or women’s NGOs. They are able to communicate with workers in a way that enhances trust.

6) Brand performance checks:
When a company joins FWF, it commits to implement the FWF Code of Labour Practices in its supply chain. While this includes efforts to work directly with factories to improve conditions there, it also means developing internal management systems to better support good workplace conditions. Each year, FWF visits affiliated companies to verify these systems and their effectiveness.

During checks, FWF staff reviews company documentation and databases, interviews staff, and, where possible, tests company systems. Using this information, FWF staff assesses the extent of meaningful improvements to internal systems and the results and achievements of these systems. Recommendations and requirements for improvement are also provided and can assist companies in shaping their compliance plans for the coming year.

FWF approaches the implementation of the Code of Labour Practices as a step-by-step process. The brand performance check focuses on a limited number of aspects of the management system, so companies can improve these first.

7) Management system requirements:
Affiliates of FWF are required to adjust their management systems in order to allow effective implementation of the Code of Labour practices.
The management system requirements that shall be met can be found here.

How standards implemented/verified by WRC (Core Policy)

1) Funding and credibility:
The WRC accepts no money from the apparel industry or from any corporation. They accept funding only from universities and colleges, charitable foundations, and public sources. The organization’s governance structure involves no participation by any corporation. This enables them to operate free from any influence by the industry whose labor practices they are monitoring.

2) Factory Audits:
Accurate, thorough, timely and impartial assessments of conditions in factories that produce collegiate apparel and other goods, undertaken by representatives.

WRC view the claims of factory owners and managers with appropriate skepticism, as If there are labor rights violations at a factory, managers have a strong interest in hiding this from monitors.

The WRC conducts in-depth investigations of a factory’s labor practices, involving large numbers of worker interviews and extensive review of other sources of evidence.

3) Interviews with workers:
The WRC interviews workers away from the workplace, in locations workers choose. We arrange these interviews through local organizations and individuals that workers trust. All interviews are conducted in confidence. This approach ensures that the WRC receives candid testimony from workers about working conditions at their factories.

4) Additional:
In some circumstances additional levels of verification have been implemented although this is not in the core WRC policy.