SA8000 is one of the most demanding certifications concerning working conditions.

The aim of the SA8000 standard is the improvement of working conditions within enterprises and in particular within the supply chain. It is one of the most demanding certification systems.

The SA8000 standard was created in 1997 on the initiative of Social Accountability International (SAI), a not-for-profit association. This code offers certification based on compliance with the ten basic ILO conventions on child labour, forced labour, freedom of association, health and safety, right to collective bargaining, absence of discrimination, disciplinary measures, working hours, remuneration and relations with suppliers.

Its first original feature is that it was developed in consultation with NGOs, trade unions and businesses. The second is that it is one of the most demanding certification systems concerning working conditions in the developing countries. The standards to be met are considered particularly high regarding remuneration – it is the living wage, which is taken into consideration and not the minimum salary of the country – and freedom of association.

Today manufacturing production (clothing, toys, shoes) and retail sites form the majority of the sites certified. The SA8000 standard is applicable to businesses of different sizes, in different sectors and different countries.  It is the production sites that are audited and certified. The verification is external and independent.

As at 30 June 2009, 2010 production sites were SA8000 certified, representing 64 countries and 66 businesses. The number of employees affected by certification is 1,119,145. With 875 production sites certified, Italy leads the way, followed by India (396), China (231), Brazil (97) and Pakistan (87).