II. Assessments

II.1 What Standards do Better Work assess factories against? 

Better Work uses a Compliance Assessment Tool (CAT) to assess factories on compliance with international Labour Standards (4 clusters) and national law (4 clusters) as follows:

International Core Labour Standards:

  • Child Labour
  • Forced Labour
  • Discrimination
  • Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining

National Labour Law:

  • Contracts and Human Resources
  • Working Time
  • Compensation and Benefits
  • Occupational Safety and Health

There are also a very small number of areas where in the absence of local laws Better Work will assess against International Good Practice (e.g. on required numbers of fire-fighters if this is not detailed etc).

The Compliance Assessment Tool is basically the same in each country but adapted slightly to account for local variations in national law. It contains around 250 individual compliance questions.

Download (PDF, 253KB)

The Compliance Assessment Tools for Indonesia and Vietnam are already up on their websites, other countries will be posting their CATs on the websites before the end of 2014 (once they have been updated) but are very similar (just reflecting differences in local law).

Indonesia Compliance Assessment Tool: http://betterwork.org/indonesia/wp-content/uploads/CAT-Sample1.pdf

Jordan Compliance Assessment Tool: http://betterwork.org/jordan/?s=compliance+assessment+tool

Vietnam Compliance Assessment Tool: http://betterwork.org/vietnam/?s=compliance+assessment+tool



II.2 How does Better Work interpret local law and International Labour Standards and what happens if the law is not clear? 

Better Work works closely with the relevant Ministries in each country for guidance on how the national law should be interpreted and applied to the garment industry.

In some of its programme countries Better Work publishes a Labour Law Guide as well as a Labour Law App. These are guides to local law and how to interpret it, based on advice from the relevant ministries. They include easy to follow examples and Case Studies.

Better Work receives advice from ILO experts (both local and international) on the correct interpretation and application of International Standards.


II.4 Can Better Work integrate buyers own Code requirements into its assessment tool? 

Better Work cannot tailor its Code to meet the differing requirements of buyer’s Codes. In all countries Better Work assesses compliance against national law and international standards. There is considerable overlap between what is covered by a Better Work assessment and buyers Code of Conduct and in many cases Better Work assessment goes beyond what is required by buyers.

Buyers commit to not duplicating audits for factories already in the programme. Buyers with specific requirements that go beyond the Better Work Compliance Assessment Tool are requested to assess these areas separately rather than continue with a full labour assessment. For example buyers should stop doing labour assessments but may still do a separate environmental assessment or use their own staff to check on the one or two provisions above law or standards that the buyer still wishes to check.

Buyers are requested to communicate clearly with factories about where they are using Better Work and where they are assessing a factory against something additional (e.g. environment or CTPAT). In addition buyers are requested to inform the Better Work programme contact (See Section I.6) or factory Advisor when they are auditing factories (for these additional areas) to ensure Better Work can reinforce the message of complementarity with the factory.

For details of the Compliance Assessment Tool for each country See Section II.1


II.3 How do Better Work assessments rate factories? 

Better Work does not currently rate factories. The Compliance Assessment Tool for each country consists of around 260 questions organized into ‘Compliance Points’ (e.g. Overtime Wages) which come under one of 8 Clusters (e.g. Compensation, OSH, Hours, Forced Labour etc.). All questions and compliance points are equal with no weighting or score given (since different buyers have different priority issues and rating systems). However all non-compliance issues will be fully reported.

If buyers are using Better Work to rate factories in their own systems they are requested to:

a) use Advisory Progress Reports (rather than simply Assessment Reports) to look at when issues are resolved/closed or when progress is being made

b) note that there are cases where Better Work is assessing against standards higher than buyer codes (primarily where local law is stronger) in which case the factory should not be considered non-compliant against the equivalent buyer question (where the standard is lower). Buyers should contact relevant programme contacts (See Section I.6) for advice of where the Better Work tool is higher than their Code so buyers can adapt as ratings scores as necessary to ensure factories are not penalized for participation in Better Work.


II.5 What does the Better Work Assessment Report Cover and How Quickly Can I get it? 

The assessment report covers:

Basic information about the facility – e.g. workforce composition, licenses where required, presence of union and strikes etc.

  • all issues which were found non-compliant
  • all issues that are compliant but where the assessor found something of note/potential concern
  • a number of issues that are considered of interest to all buyers e.g. type of contracts, minimum wage paid, standard working hours etc.
  • A chart giving year by year comparison of the rate of non-compliance in different areas

Better Work reports are sent to the factory within 22 days. The factory has 7 calendar days to review and discuss/get clarification with Better Work (or 5 business days in case of holidays or force majeure). However, anything other than proven factual errors will not be changed. When the time has expired for the factory  to review the report (i.e. usually 29 days after the assessment) the report will be released to all buyers the factory has authorized to receive it.

The factory can approve release of the report earlier – anytime from the 22nd day (when it receives the report) if it wishes. Better Work go through a rigorous quality assurance process, to ensure consistency between assessors within countries and between the different country programmes.


II.6 What happens if a having seen the assessment report a factory refuses to approve its release to a buyer? 

Better Work reports are only released with the agreement of the factory who in effect ‘own’ the report and authorize Better Work to release it through authorizing a Third Party Access Form from the Portal. Very occasionally having seen a report a factory will withdraw the Third Party Access Form that it has previously signed. In this case the report cannot be released to the buyer, this needs to be discussed between the buyer and the factory.

II.7 Why do I receive the reports as a PDF, can I receive them in Word or Excel? 

All Better Work reports are circulated to both buyers and factories as PDFs. Better Work does this to protect the integrity of the report and so the receiver can be 100% sure they have the correct, un-tampered with version of the report. We will continue to circulate reports in PDF only. Buyers that wish to convert PDFs to Word or Excel documents for internal reasons can do so by using PDF converter software. It can be easily found by searching ‘PDF converter license’ on the internet (e.g. http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/convert-pdf-converter.html)

II.8 What are Zero Tolerance Issues for Better Work and how does it treat them? 

There is a generic global Zero Tolerance Protocol, See Appendix Two.

The Zero Tolerance Protocol requires agreement with the Labour Ministry in each Better Work Country. The exact details of the protocol may vary according to the agreement with the Ministry in each country, but every protocol will include at least the issues listed in the Appendix, and follow the same basic steps. For details of a county programmes specific protocol please contact the relevant programme.


II.10 Can buyers shadow a Better Work assessment to see how it works? 


Better Work is happy for buyers to shadow an assessment to see in more detail how they work. This should be at a factory for which the buyer has a relationship, has a signed 3rd party access form, and has registered and paid for the reports from that factory.

Due to the volume of requests to shadow assessments, and since having a buyer present changes the nature of the assessment (as factories generally behave differently), a buyer cannot shadow (except in exceptional circumstances) more than once a year in any given country.

To organize a shadowed assessment contact the buyer contact person in the relevant country programme (See Section I.6)


II. 12 Can Better Work go in at short notice if I need an assessment report very quickly for sourcing or if I need a quick audit due to a previous critical issue? 

For new factories, and on request of buyer partners, Better Work will prioritise urgent assessments if possible.

For factories already in the programme Better Work cannot carry out additional assessments outside of the normal annual assessment cycle. However buyers should note that in all countries apart from Cambodia, Better Work Advisors are visiting factories every 4-8 weeks and producing two Progress Reports per year (5 and 11 months after assessments except in Haiti where is it always 5 months after assessment). Buyers are requested to use these reports wherever possible or contact the Advisors for their factories for updates or to ask them if they can focus on a particular issue during their next Advisory visit. Buyers should note that Better Work is not usually able to do special visits to investigate particular issues for particular buyers. The exception to this is Cambodia (since not all factories have Advisory Service). Buyers are strongly encouraged to enroll their Cambodia factories in Advisory services to ensure the same level of oversight is provided. However, for factories not enrolled in Advisory Services in Cambodia, and in exceptional circumstances BFC may conduct out-of-schedule visits or verification visits (depending on staffing, issue etc.) for an additional one off payment.

If Better Work is unable to facilitate a buyers need for an additional audit/special visit during the year and the buyer cannot use the Progress Reports for this purpose, the buyer may need to revert to their previous approach (e.g. own staff or 3rd party auditor) but is requested to inform the relevant factory Advisor and coordinate with them to avoid unnecessary duplication and ensure consistency of message and approach.


II.11 How quickly can Better Work assess factories? 

Better Work commits to assessing factories within 3 months of receiving registration and payment from the factory. Buyers should factor in this timeframe when asking factories to register particularly if they are on a specific ‘audit schedule’ or if a report is needed at a particular time.

In exceptional cases, at the request of buyer partners, Better Work will prioritise assessments of particular factories if possible.