Detecting violations of the FLA Workplace Code of Conduct during factory assessments and prompting their remediation by FLA-affiliated companies is one of the core functions of the FLA Accountability program. In 2015, the FLA conducted a total of 124 assessments of factories owned or contracted by FLA Participating Companies and Suppliers, or Category B collegiate licensees. These assessments took place in 21 countries, and directly affected around 135,000 of the more than 4.5 million workers in factories covered by the FLA program.
The FLA chose these factories from a total of around 4,750 factories submitted by FLA-affiliated companies for potential assessment. FLA staff identify factories for assessment using a risk-weighted random selection method that ensures an unbiased process while increasing the likelihood that factories in countries considered high-risk for poor working conditions will be assessed. For example, in 2015, more than one-third of all factories submitted for assessment were located in China; the FLA’s selection methodology resulted in 39 assessments (31.5 percent) being conducted in Chinese factories.
The FLA produces individual public reports for each assessment conducted, searchable under the "Workplace Montioring Reports" tab by country, company, and year. The FLA requires that companies develop remediation plans for all Code of Conduct violations found. When submitted by the companies, these remediation plans appear within the reports themselves, and can help companies prepare for action when their internal monitoring programs detect similar violations elsewhere.
The reports also provide companies, universities, civil society organizations, and the general public with valuable insight into workplace conditions around the globe. To further this goal and highlight country-specific findings, the FLA has produced short summaries of common violations of the FLA Workplace Code of Conduct found by assessors in 2015 in the seven countries where the FLA conducted five or more assessments. Together, these countries account for 93 of the 124 assessments conducted in 2015 – exactly 75 percent.
For example, under the “health, safety, and environment” code element, FLA assessors found that all ten factories visited in Vietnam lacked sufficient evacuation plans and procedures in the event of an emergency. Under the “compensation” code element, FLA assessors found that eight of nine factories visited in Turkey maintained false payroll records that obscure excessive overtime or falsely report workers’ hourly wages. And in Mexico, assessors found that five of six factories violated workers' associational rights by maintaining "protection contracts" or "ghost unions" -- employer-dominated unions that do not truly represent workers. Notably, the one factory in Mexico without a "protection contract" in place was also found to provide commendable benefits to workers, such as punctuality bonuses and subsidized meals. Where assessors have reported on exemplary factory performance like this, their findings are recorded on the country summaries.
Across all countries, almost all factory assessments in 2015 (99 percent) included several “employment relationship” findings. The proliferation of these findings relates to the adoption of a new FLA factory monitoring methodology in 2011, simultaneous with revisions to the FLA Workplace Code of Conduct that included the introduction of the “employment relationship” code element. With the sharpening of the FLA’s focus on root-cause analysis and sustainable improvement of overall factory systems, assessors began to dig deeper to review whether factories have adequate policies, procedures, record-keeping capabilities, and fully staffed human resources teams to support exemplary performance in all aspects of factory management. On the reports below, these findings stand out as high in every country; remediation of these findings will help factories create and maintain systems that prevent other code violations from occurring.
For common findings in China (39 assessments), the USA (14), Vietnam (10), Turkey (9), India (9), Pakistan (6), and Mexico (6), please see the summaries below. For a more global overview of FLA factory assessment findings, see pages 22 to 33 of the FLA’s 2015 Annual Public Report .