We offer our suppliers training programs that help them better understand our compliance standards and assist them in developing procedures to meet these standards.
At VF, we are proud of our deep relationship with suppliers.
Before we begin working with a supplier, we introduce VF’s Global Compliance Program and Factory Audit Procedures to the facility’s management team. Suppliers that experience difficulty meeting our compliance requirements are offered training and support from our sourcing teams or independent consultants, provided they demonstrate a commitment to meeting the goals set forth by the Program. If suppliers accept the offer, we work with them to further assess working conditions and remediate problems.
Additionally, we provide regular training sessions for associates involved in sourcing and compliance, and we regularly set up training sessions for our suppliers in critical areas. Our training topics include water treatment, payroll calculations, health and safety.
VF FACTORY AUDITS
We make every effort to treat all suppliers with fairness and honesty, an approach we believe helps build a foundation for a long-term relationship. We audit all Tier 1 (sewing, cutting, embroidery, screen-print, laundry), licensees, and Tier 2 contract factories nominated by our supply chain management (fabric mills, tanneries). We expect our factory partners to source from only vendors that uphold our Global Compliance Principles.
We maintain a philosophy of continuous improvement, and as such we are committed to helping suppliers meet VF’s manufacturing standards through training, education and capacity building. However, VF has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to violations in human rights and health and safety – including child/juvenile labor, forced labor and unfair remuneration.
Even though we make every effort to ensure that our Global Compliance Principles are upheld in each facility that produces for VF, there are, unfortunately, instances of non-compliance that VF works diligently to address. Since 2005, we have increased our global audit staff and introduced an audit scheduling function to our systems platform, which also aids in monitoring the status of remediation.
In 2013, VF conducted 1,848 audits across VF Authorized Facilities, with higher frequency for those who require more significant action plans. Resulting from our audits, the top issues of labor non-compliance at our contract facilities were as follows.
Approximately 3 percent of factories failed for issues related to harassment and discrimination. Sample action plans for factories found noncompliant with Global Compliance Principle 8 included:
Abolishing unfair “Last ranking position elimination” policy in the company policy with announcement.
Arranging medical check up to all employees annually.
Mapping out an improvement plan to control the overtime hours.
Approximately 3 percent of factories failed for issues related to forced labor. Sample action plans for factories found noncompliant with Global Compliance Principle 3 included:
Refraining from retaining worker passports, bankbooks or any personal identification documents; returning the passport and stamp for bankbook to all migrant workers; and absorbing a secure methodology or providing a personal locker at safe place for each migrant worker with a key to safeguard their personal belongings.
Ensuring a day of rest is observed and that overtime beyond normal schedules is arranged on a voluntary basis
Approximately 2.5 percent of factories failed for issues related to juvenile labor. Sample action plans for factories found noncompliant with Global Compliance Principle 2 included:
Arranging health checks for juvenile workers as following: a) before the juvenile worker begins working at the enterprise; b) after the juvenile worker has worked for one full year; c) when the juvenile worker has reached 18 years of age and has not had a health examination in the previous six months.
Re-examining its hiring procedures to ensure that workers under 16 years old are not hired.
Setting up a young worker protection policy to ensure all young workers are registered in a local labor bureau and provided with a regular health check once they are hired.
Approximately 1 percent of factories failed for issues related to freedom of association and collective bargaining. Sample action plans for factories found noncompliant with Global Compliance Principle 6 included:
Establishing an employee representative as required by law.
Assisting the worker welfare committee to conduct quarterly meetings regularly with a record of such meetings maintained.
Providing a suggestion box for the employees to raise any concern they may have.
In addition, one incident of a work-related fatality was reported as a result of chemical exposure combined with heat exhaustion. It was concluded that the individual suffered from health issues that contributed to their unique reaction to these conditions. Though the factory was not held liable, VF is deeply regretful of the incident.
We recognize our responsibility to never tolerate violations of human rights in the factories where people work on our behalf to produce our products. Any violation of human rights concerning child/juvenile labor and forced labor, or persistent critical safety, health, or labor issues in our supply chain is unacceptable. VF immediately ceases all work with a facility if an audit reveals child/juvenile labor, involuntary or forced labor, minimum wage and incorrect overtime compensation, locked emergency exits, physical or verbal abuse, attempted bribes or falsified records. If, at a later date, the factory feels that it has taken the appropriate corrective action to merit another audit, we will reconsider the facility and conduct another audit. If a factory receives two consecutive “rejected” ratings, no further audits can be conducted until a waiting period of 12 months has elapsed.
Understanding that many human rights and labor issues are industry-wide, VF is dedicated to continuing our work with NGOs and our industry to evolve our factory audit and compliance program.