Increasing public concern about inhumane working conditions in developing countries led to the development of the Council on Economic Priorities Accreditation Agency in 1997. Its purpose was to draw up a universal code of practice for labour conditions in manufacturing industry, so that consumers in developed countries could be confident that the goods they were buying - in particular clothes, toys, cosmetics and electronic goods - had been produced in accordance with recognized set of standards. In 2000.
CEPAA became known as Social Accountability International (SAI), whose remit was to develop voluntary standards governing social responsibility, and to certify companies that agreed to meet them. The first such standard is SA8000, which governs employees' working conditions.
The SA 8000 certification is the Social Accountability System standard. It is applicable to companies of any size that wish to address the social and ethical aspects of their business. A Social Accountability System proves to customers that the company holds adequate provisions for the protection of wokers' rights. Further, it ensures ethical production of all goods manufactured by the company. SA 8000 is the first auditable standard in this field. The initiative is based on the well-known ISO 9001/ISO 14001 certification structure, conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- Child labour is not permitted
- Forced labour is not permitted
- Working hours shall not exceed 48 hrs a week, with a maximum of 12 hrs overtime
- Freedom to organize and collective bargaining have to be guaranteed
- Health and safety have to be assured
- Discrimination is not permitted
- Disciplinary practices are not permitted
- Remuneration shall be sufficient
- Management systems shall guarantee that the requirements are effectively satisfied