Supply Chain Innovation

Independent External Monitoring Reports

Participating Companies, Participating Suppliers and Category B Licensees participate in the FLA’s annual Independent External Monitoring (IEM) program. Pursuant to the FLA Charter, independent FLA accredited external monitors visit factories that have been randomly selected from the company’s supply chain. The FLA then publicly reports on factory compliance with the FLA’s Workplace Code of Conduct, FLA Compliance Benchmarks and applicable legal standards together with remediation plans developed by the FLA affiliated company to resolve the identified issues and prevent any future violations. All IEM Reports are reviewed by FLA staff.

IEM Reports – also called Tracking Charts -- are organized in the website by year and by affiliated company. The FLA has used several reporting formats through the years of the IEM Program. IEM Reports for visits that originally occurred between 2002-2007 appear in Excel format. Starting in 2008, IEM Reports follow a narrative format. IEM Reports contain various types of findings:

  • Noncompliance: A finding of violation of a local law or one or more FLA Compliance Benchmarks that has been corroborated by more than one source (e.g., management interview, worker interview, payroll review, on-site observation, etc.) unless that single source is incriminating.
  • Risk of Noncompliance: A finding of risk of noncompliance arises when processes and/or management systems do not exist in a factory to actively prevent a noncompliance from occurring.
  • Uncorroborated Evidence of Noncompliance: Uncorroborated evidence of noncompliance refers to a piece of evidence which suggests that a noncompliance may exist. The monitors, however, were not able to verify or corroborate the existence of the noncompliance conclusively through an additional source or sources (due to lack of time, the elusiveness of the issue and so forth).
  • Notable Feature: A notable feature is tantamount to a “Best Practice.” It generally refers to a noteworthy positive effort or initiative that the factory or FLA affiliated company has implemented.

In reading IEM Reports, please keep the following in mind:

  • In any workplace, working conditions are dynamic. An IEM Report represents a snap shot of the factory’s compliance at the specific time that the monitoring visit occurs. Compliance is a process, not a one-time event.
  • An IEM visit is not a pass-or-fail evaluation. IEM Reports do not certify whether or not factories are in compliance with the FLA Code of Conduct but rather identify areas where there are compliance gaps.
  • Each monitoring visit is followed up by a remediation program (Corrective Action Plan, CAP) and further monitoring. That an IEM identifies one or more noncompliances should not be taken as an indication that factory is below par and a suggestion that the FLA-affiliated company should withdraw from the factory. Monitoring visits are intended to prioritize compliance gaps and corresponding capacity-building activities that will lead to sustainable improvements in the factory’s workplace conditions.
  • Companies affiliated with the FLA commit to remediating noncompliances and updating the FLA on a regular basis. The progress of implementation of the CAP is updated on the IEM Reports accordingly. If a Company fails to submit a CAP or to respond to FLA’s review of a CAP in a timely manner, this is noted on the IEM Report. Companies are also required to inform the FLA if they cease to source from a factory that has been subject to an IEM visit.
  • The FLA has taken the precaution of removing identifying information about the factory that was monitored or the workers interviewed. Factory names are not disclosed in order to ensure that the FLA’s efforts to encourage and reward transparency do not have detrimental consequences for the factory. Similarly, worker names are suppressed in order to prevent retaliation or any adverse consequence from their interaction with monitors.
  • In situations where a Company fails to submit a CAP or to respond to FLA review in a timely manner, a special note is displayed on the report to draw attention to the lapse in the interest of transparency and accountability.

The FLA conducts Independent External Verification (IEV) visits in addition to IEM visits. IEV visits are arranged by the FLA for an accredited independent external monitor to revisit a factory to verify that remediation plans were in fact implemented and to evaluate whether new findings have arisen. The verification visits typically focus on factories facing critical and challenging noncompliance issues, such as nonpayment of wages, egregious safety and health violations, etc. IEV Reports can be identified by the letter V following the Factory Reference Number.

For further information on the FLA’s IEM Program and to view analysis of IEM findings, please see the FLA’s Annual Public Reports.