I. General Questions on Better Work

I.1 What is Better Work? 

Better Work is an independent programme of the International Labor Organization (ILO), the labour specialists of the United Nations, and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector development specialists of the World Bank. Better Work is dedicated to private sector development and improvement of working conditions. Better Work is a global programme operating in eight countries that are supported by a global team constantly developing new tools, training staff, monitoring quality and assessing impact. For details of the Services provided in country programmes go to Section I.4.

Better Work aims to:

  • improve worker’s lives
  • promote decent work
  • help strengthen the industry’s competitiveness
  • contribute to unlocking business opportunities to help job creation
  • influence policies to support improved working conditions
  • deliver services that prioritise improving worker management communications as a sustainable mechanism for promoting continuous improvement in factories

I.2 What are the benefits of Better Work for buyers? 

As well as the benefits of being part of a global programme to improve workers lives and increase the competitiveness of the industry in developing countries, there are a number of direct and practical benefits for buyers of engaging with the Better Work programme:

  • No need to carry out your own assessments/audits or develop your own CAPs (Improvement Plans)
  • Regular and detailed reports that highlight areas to focus on and progress made (Updated Improvement Plans are included with every Progress Report)
  • Coordination with buyers in the same factory: one CAP/Improvement Plan that can be used for all registered buyers to ensure effective use of resources through a coordinated response
  • Regular follow-up with all factories by well-trained local staff, under international guidance
  • Increased factory capacity and ownership, through the self-assessment tool, factory ownership of a single Improvement Plan etc.
  • Management/worker committee established in every factory, responsible for improving compliance and workplace cooperation in a sustainable fashion
  • Choice of training programmes tailored for the garment/footwear industry
  • Access to all the additional services in each country (see Services below)
  • Timely updates on national and factory level laws and issues – e.g. new labour laws, strikes etc.


I.3 Which countries have Better Work programmes and in which sectors? 

Mandatory Programmes (required/driven by the government) in which all apparel factories are covered:

  • Cambodia
  • Haiti
  • Jordan


Voluntary Programmes (driven by market and industry incentives):

  • Bangladesh
  • Indonesia
  • Lesotho
  • Nicaragua
  • Vietnam


Better Work programmes cover the apparel sector in all countries and footwear in Cambodia and Vietnam.

In Cambodia, the Assessment Service can be purchased separately for garments only. In all other countries (and in footwear in Cambodia) the Assessment and Advisory come as a package (and are not available separately).

Factory level services will be available in Bangladesh in the second half of 2014

Possible Future Programmes:

  • Myanmar – In 2012 the ILO developed a new programme framework with three key objectives: (i) the elimination of forced labour; (ii) the promotion of freedom of association, and (iii) the development of a Decent Work Country Programme by the end of 2015.

As one element of this, during 2014, the ILO is undertaking a garment sector study to provide a clear picture of the current state of the industry and of the situation of garment workers. The results of this study will be used by constituents to design a comprehensive industry development strategy (which may include a Better Work programme if local conditions are right and there is sufficient demand). The study results will also be used to document and guide the GoRUM’s reflection on the setting of a minimum wage for the sector.


I.4 What services does Better Work provide in its progamme countries? 

In all countries, apart from Cambodia, Assessment and Advisory Services are purchased annually as a package (and cannot be purchased separately). The service currently starts with a baseline Assessment (for more information on Assessments see Section II); followed by Advisory Service which includes intensive coaching to allow managers and worker representatives to address the issues they want to focus on in their enterprise (for more information on Advisory Services see Section III). The goal is to focus on root causes of problems and to find systemic solutions that will be sustainable over the long term. The programme focuses on ensuring that managers and workers create strong communication channels to avoid unnecessary disputes.

In Cambodia the assessment model is the same but advisory services are purchased separately.

Training services can be purchased separately in all programmes and are available for participating factories as well as those that have not subscribed to Assessment and Advisory Services. Training courses offered are:

  • Expert-led participatory training seminars that include sharing of best practices and proven strategies for making practical results-oriented changes.
  • Off-the-shelf and custom made training courses (e.g. Supervisory Skills, Workplace Cooperation, Workers Induction TOT, OSH, productivity, preventing child labour etc., Worker Rights and Responsibilities).


Additional services for factories/buyers vary by country but may include:

  • Easy to use guide or App on local labour law
  • Regular newsletters and or videos as well as social media updates
  • Media and/or labour law updates
  • Shared Learning Seminars – for factories and buyers to receive technical input as well as share best practice and challenges on issues common across the industry.
  • SMS projects for communicating with workers
  • Innovative factory grievance systems (giving factories and buyers access to all complaints and follow-up)
  • Updates to participating buyers on their suppliers (through email, calls or meetings).


For details of specific country’s services visit the country programme website:



Indonesia: http://betterwork.org/indonesia/

Jordan: http://betterwork.org/jordan/

Lesotho: http://betterwork.org/global/?page_id=322

Nicaragua: http://betterwork.org/global/?page_id=324

Vietnam: http://betterwork.org/vietnam/


I.5 How can I promote Better Work to our factories, what are the benefits for them? 

Better Work is the most comprehensive and cost effective way for apparel factories to improve both working conditions and business competitiveness. Services are tailored to meet the needs of each participating factory, with a focus on making improvements rather than focusing on problems. By actively participating in Better Work, factories can see a decrease in their number of non-compliance issues, strengthening of their relationships with buyers, improvements in the productivity in their factories, and more stable relationships with their workers. Other benefits to factories include:

  • Reduced audits (one report for all buyers)
  • One improvement plan (CAP) so less confusion and time to focus on real change
  • Regular advisory inputs (advice/training) for continuous improvement
  • Support building a sustainable structure/process in the factory for long-term benefit
  • Better dialogue in the factory reducing strikes
  • Access to Better Work learning seminars, labour law guide, Fun Run
  • Best practice from industry leaders
  • Good Public Relations – ability to promote factory to buyers (some buyers using info for sourcing decisions)

For sample text on how to communicate to your supply base about Better Work please see Appendix One.