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SA 8000(Social Accountability 8000)

SA8000 is the first international certification on social responsibility. Its main objective is to guarantee workers' rights; in such a way that everyone involved wins: companies, workers, trade unions, government.

Social Accountability 8000 (SA8000) has been developed by Social Accountability International (SAI), known until recently as the Council on Economic Priorities Accreditation Agency.
SAI is a non-profit affiliate of the Council on Economic Priorities (CEP).
SA8000 is promoted as a voluntary, universal standard for companies interested in auditing and certifying labour practices in their facilities and those of their suppliers and vendors. It is designed for independent third party certification.
SA8000 is based on the principles of international human rights norms as described in International Labour Organisation conventions, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It measures the performance of companies in eight key areas: child labour, forced labour, health and safety, free association and collective bargaining, discrimination, disciplinary practices, working hours and compensation. SA8000 also provides for a social accountability management system to demonstrate ongoing conformance with the standard.


The standard Requirements


SA8000 was launched in 1997 by CEPAA - Council on Economics Priorities Accreditation Agency, an NGO, later renamed to SAI - Social Accountability International. Social Accountability 8000 (SA8000) is the first global standard for corporate social responsibility. SA8000 is based on both international human rights´ conventions (International Labour Organisation, the International Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child) and satisfying relevant local legislation. It aims to guarantee basic rights of workers involved in the production processes. Is composed of 9 requirements:

  • Child labour is not permitted
  • Forced labour is not permitted
  • Health and safety have to be assured
  • Freedom to organise and collective bargaining have to be guaranteed
  • Discrimination is not permitted
  • Disciplinary practices are not permitted
  • Working hours shall not exceed 48 hrs a week, with a maximum of 12 hrs overtime
  • Remuneration shall be sufficient
  • Management systems shall guarantee that the requirements are effectively satisfied.

Who can apply for certification

SA8000 follows the structures of both the Quality Management Standards ISO9000 and the Environment Management Standard ISO14000, and emphasises the importance of an on-going improvement process. Development and ongoing oversight of the standard is addressed by a multi-sector Advisory Board with experts from business, trade unions, government and NGOs from around the world and across industries. Facilities seeking certification of compliance to the standard must have robust management systems in place and undergo an audit by an independent, accredited certification body.

SAI and its Advisory Board oversee the accreditation of certification bodies, which are required to demonstrate extensive background in systems auditing, intensive training in SA8000, and the institutional capacity to assure quality and responsiveness. There are currently nine accredited certification bodies that have certified facilities in 30 countries. SAI regularly consults with international experts on ways to strengthen certification audits and the SA8000 guidance documents.

1) Companies seeking to independently verify their social record.
2) Companies seeking to independently verify their own social record and that of their contractors. Contractors that produce goods for U.S. and European companies and wish to demonstrate to companies and consumers that they are treating workers Development or multilateral organisations seeking to ensure that they procure from companies that are not exploitative.

Certification to SA8000

Companies that operate production facilities can seek to have individual facilities certified to SA8000 through audits by one of the accredited certification bodies. Since the SA8000 system became fully operational in 1998, there are certified facilities in 30 countries on five continents and across 22 industries.

Benefits of SA8000

Along with humane workplaces, the implementation of SA8000 offers more benefits to workers, companies and others:

Benefits for Workers, Trade Unions and NGOs

  • Enhanced opportunities to organize trade unions and bargain collectively,
  • A tool to educate workers about core labour rights,
  • Another opportunity to work directly with business on labour rights issues,
  • Public awareness of companies committed to assuring humane working conditions,


Benefits for business

  • Putting company values into action,
  • Enhancing company and brand reputation,
  • Improving employee recruitment, retention and performance,
  • Better supply chain management and performance.


Benefits for Consumers and Investors

  • Clear and credible assurance for ethical purchasing decisions,
  • Identification of products made ethically and companies committed to ethical sourcing,
  • Broad coverage of product categories and production geography.



Consultants of Quality Foundation follow a Structured approach Process flow diagram for System Development  for developing SA 8000 through consultancy and training services, involving all concerned personnel there by developing the competence in personnel for documenting, implementing, maintaining and also aiming for continual improvement during and after completion of consultancy, training and handholding services are as follows.

  • Initial Assessment through interview with the people Responsible of the main roles in the company, and sightseeing all the organisation sites & Report
  • Projecting the System to comply with relevant national and local regulations, assessing the company against the SA8000 standard and giving the customer the time table to do it; Consultants Quality Plan


  • Implementing the System on the SA8000 standard and all the documents that vary depending of the company’s activity; SA8000 Documentation.
  • Internal assessment of compliance to SA8000 conducted by Quality Foundation consultants to check if the changes to conditions, policies and management systems required by the standard are done in all the organisation sites; the audit reveals also that all what is declared in the relative documentation is true. Identification of the non compliances to the SA8000 and corrective actions when required.


  • Assistance to choose the Certification- Auditor that suites better the customer activity and management of all the arrangement needed; Activation of the Certification. Assistance up to the final Auditing and the issue of the certificate Certificate SA8000.

Time required
4 - 6 months


For further information, visit the website at
SA8000® Frequently Asked Questions

[SA8000 FAQs- Download PDF, 226.91KB]
SAI has created a Frequently Asked Questions document from the inquiries we have received to date, regarding the implementation of SA8000®:2008. The FAQs are now available online at no cost and will be frequently updated as new questions are received. The document covers questions by auditors and users of SA8000®, addressing each element of SA8000®, and provides country-specific examples.
In October of 2009, SAI’s Advisory Board decided to make the 2004 Guidance Document available free of cost to all implementers of SA8000®. Users of SA8000® should confer with both of these documents and questions can be sent to Matt Fischer-Daly at
SA8000®:2008 Revision
[Download Standard Revisions Procedures- PDF 561.55KB]
In 2008, the third edition of SA8000® was published after a two-year revision process, spearheaded by the Standard Revision Committee of SAI’s Advisory Board, which acted as the principal drafters of the new standard language. The revision process involved two rounds of public consultation and a final round of expert review with representatives from business, NGOs, trade unions and academia.
SAI’s multi-stakeholder Advisory Board reviewed all comments and collaborated through its consensus-based process to finalize the new standard. In addition, the SA8000® standard revision was conducted in compliance with ISEAL’s Code of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental Standards. For more information about how the revision process was conducted, view the Standard Revisions Procedures.
SA8000®:2008 Drafters' Notes
[SA8000®:2008 Drafters' Notes- PDF, 183.21KB]
In revising the standard the SAI Advisory Board sought to maintain the level of requirements. Overall the majority of changes were made to clarify areas of the standard where there were frequent questions. The nine Social Accountability Requirements remain the same – no additional sections have been added, and no existing ones have been removed. SA8000®:2008 is more explicit in areas where questions and misinterpretations have surfaced in its past field used. It also explicitly addresses abuses practices that have become much more commonplace since the 2001 version was released. The drafter’s notes are intended to help auditors, employers, supply chain managers, workers and other interested parties who use SA8000® to understand the substantive changes in the revised standard.
All certifications will be expected to be in line with the new standard by March 31, 2010.
SA8000® Guidance Document

This SA8000® Guidance document is intended to provide some interpretation and examples of application of SA8000®’s requirements for auditors and other users of the Standard. It is not intended to be comprehensive and does not include all matters of interpretation or implementation that arise when applying SA8000® to the workplace.

This abridged SA8000® Guidance document is amplified by several other sources providing additional and updated interpretive information for applying SA8000®. Please also view the SA8000® Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). When read together with this Guidance, most questions concerning the application of SA8000® to any particular worksite issue should be answered. An inquiry to FAQ would result in the interpretive answer to any question not addressed in these materials.
Download SA8000®:2004 Guidance Document- PDF, 671KB]
The SA8000® Guidance Document was first published in 1999, a product of dozens of experts representing diverse professional backgrounds: Businesses, NGOs, Trade Unions, Academics, and Government Agencies. It provides various tools and information for users of the SA8000® standard, including definitions, background information and examples. The Guidance Document does not impose additional requirements beyond those contained in SA8000®. This document seeks not only to assist auditors in interpreting the SA8000® standard, but also to serve multiple audiences by communicating how the SA8000® verification system works in the field. Thus, this document is both a field guide for auditors and a teaching tool for managers and workers who develop techniques for implementing SA8000® and monitoring through ongoing compliance.
The Guidance Document was last revised and published in 2004. The revised document that is aligned with the changes made in the SA8000®: 2008 standard is now available to download. Users of SA8000® are required to consult the 2004 Guidance Document as they implement the standard, and can also use the Drafter’s Notes and FAQs for further clarification on the changes made to the standard since.

Certification is the process by which individual facilities and organizations earn a document attesting to its compliance to the SA8000® Standard. Performance deemed to be in conformance with the requirements in the Standard is acknowledged by granting a certificate that can be displayed and its contents communicated to relevant parties.

A facility wishing to seek certification to SA8000® must apply to a SAAS-accredited auditing firm, or certification body. Auditors from these certification bodies visit facilities and assess corporate practice on a wide range of issues related to the SA8000® system and evaluate the state of a company’s management systems necessary to ensure ongoing acceptable practices to SA8000® requirements.

Once an organization has implemented any necessary improvements to meet the requirements in the Standard, it can earn a certificate attesting to its compliance with SA8000®. Certification lasts for three years, with a series of required surveillance audits throughout this three year period. Surveillance audits are an ongoing periodic review of the certified facility’s quality management system to ensure continuous improvement in meeting the Standard.
SAI only recognizes SA8000® certificates issued by qualified CBs granted accreditation by SAAS and does not recognize the validity of SA8000® certificates issued by unaccredited organizations.

Recognized certificates of compliance to SA8000® and other verification codes within the SAAS scope of accreditation are available only through qualified CBs granted accreditation by SAAS.

The complete list of valid SA8000® certified facilities can be found on the SAAS website:

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