SA8000 is a global social accountability standard for decent working conditions, developed and overseen by Social Accountability International (SAI). Detailed guidance for implementing or auditing to SA8000 are available from its website. SAI offers training in SA8000 and other workplace standards to managers, workers and auditors. It contracts with a global accreditation agency, Social Accountability Accreditation Services (SAAS) that licences and oversees auditing organisations to award certification to employers that comply with SA8000.
SA8000 is based on the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Convention on the Rights of the Child and various International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions. SA8000 covers the following areas of accountability:
No workers under the age of 15; minimum lowered to 14 for countries operating under the ILO Convention 138 developing-country exception; remediation of any child found to be working
No forced labor, including prison or debt bondage labor; no lodging of deposits or identity papers by employers or outside recruiters
Provide a safe and healthy work environment; take steps to prevent injuries; regular health and safety worker training; system to detect threats to health and safety; access to bathrooms and potable water
No discrimination based on race, caste, origin, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, union or political affiliation, or age; no sexual harassment
No corporal punishment, mental or physical coercion or verbal abuse
Comply with the applicable law but, in any event, no more than 48 hours per week with at least one day off for every seven day period; voluntary overtime paid at a premium rate and not to exceed 12 hours per week on a regular basis; overtime may be mandatory if part of a collective bargaining agreement
Wages paid for a standard work week must meet the legal and industry standards and be sufficient to meet the basic need of workers and their families; no disciplinary deductions
Social Accountability International (SAI) Corporate Program Members include Gap, Otto Group, Tchibo, TNT, Carrefour, Timberland, Gucci, Billabong, Anvil and Eileen Fisher. SAI Advisory Board members come from Care, Ethos Institute, Tata Group, TNT, Gap Inc, Tchibo, Switcher, Chiquita, Solidaridad, Carrefour, Union Network International, UFCW, and Eileen Fisher.
As of June 30, 2008, roughly 900,000 workers are employed in 1700 facilities certified to SA8000, in 64 countries and 61 industrial sectors. The industrial sectors with the most certifications include apparel and textiles; building materials; agriculture; construction; chemicals; cosmetics; cleaning services and transportation. The countries with the most certification to SA8000 include Brazil, India, China and Italy.
The cost of acquiring a certification for a factory, farm or office varies with the number of employees and the location. It can range up to 10-12,000 USD for very large facilities.
Dominic A. Tarantino, Chairman of Price Waterhouse World Firm described SA8000 in 1998 as "the first ever universal standard for ethical sourcing... It provides a common framework for ethical sourcing for companies of any size and any type, anywhere in the world. SA8000 sets out provisions for issues such as trade union rights, the use of child labor, working hours, health and safety at work, and fair pay." However, it does not address broader issues of ecology or bribery or other issues which may require more consumer or executive restraint. Tarantino further argued the need for moral leadership:
"Pricing, products and services are no longer the sole arbiters of commercial success... it is business that must take the lead in taming the global frontier. Business must take the lead in establishing rule of law in emerging markets. Business must take the lead in stopping bribery. Business must take the lead in bringing order to cyberspace. Business must take the lead in ensuring that technology does not split the world into haves and have nots."