The Fair Labor Association (FLA) 1 is a multi-stakeholder initiative involving companies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and colleges and universities in a collaborative effort to improve workplace conditions worldwide established in 1999.

A Workplace Code of Conduct and Compliance Benchmark has been developed which is based on the International Labour Organisation standards. 2 The Code covers areas such as: forced labour, child labour, harassment in the workplace, non- discrimination and the respect of employment conditions such as working hours, health and safety, freedom of association and collective bargaining, compensation of overtime and environment. 3

The list of participating companies can be accessed on FLA website. 4 Famous companies affiliated with FLA include Adidas Group, Nestlé, Puma and Hugo Boss.

Upon joining the FLA, companies commit to accepting unannounced independent external monitoring (IEM) audits of their factories, contractors and suppliers. If factories violate the Code, FLA requires the correction of the through remediation plans which are made public. These plans are also published. Additionally, verification audits are undertaken to check on the progress made in factories.

Who can file a complaint? 5

Any person, group or organisation can report instances of persistent or serious non-compliance with the FLA Workplace Code of Conduct in a production facility used by an FLA-affiliated company, supplier, or university licensee. On its website, FlA mentions it can be contacted to check if a factory produces for an FlA affiliated company. The complaint process is meant to be a tool of last resort when other channels (internal grievance mechanism, local labour dispute mechanisms…) have failed to protect workers’ rights.

Process and Outcome

  1. FLA reviews complaint and decides on its admissibility.
  2. FLA notifies and seeks explanations from the company. The company using the factory has 45 days to conduct an internal assessment of the alleged non-compliance and if found to be valid, develop a remediation plan.
  3. FLA conducts an investigation If warranted, the FLA conducts further investigation into the situation in the factory with the help of an external, impartial assessor or ombudsman.
  4. A remediation plan is developed based on the report from the external assessor.