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Fair Labor Association (FLA)

Patagonia is a member of the Fair Labor Association (FLA). The FLA is a multi-stakeholder initiative including companies, colleges, universities, and non-governmental organizations working together to improve workers' lives. The FLA complements the efforts of the International Labor Organization (ILO), national governments and labor relations systems by ensuring that participating companies, licensees, and suppliers observe a workplace code of conduct throughout their supply chains.

The FLA acts as a third-party monitoring organization and publicly discloses the findings of audits in its members’ factories. The FLA contracts with accredited monitors to conduct independent monitoring of the companies’ contract facilities, requires companies to remediate problems identified in their facilities, and independently verifies and accounts for company internal compliance programs.

The Fair Labor Association Board of Directors comprises 19 people – six representatives of brands (including small and large brands), six university representatives, six NGO representatives, and an independent chairperson. Unpacking the best model for ethical sourcing is incredibly complex. Verifying good factories, communicating expectations, and creating sustainable solutions to improve workers’ lives requires collaboration from every stakeholder involved. The FLA provides such space.

What it means to be a member of the FLA
In 2001 Patagonia became a Participating Company in the FLA. As a participating company, we agreed to adhere to the FLA Workplace Code of Conduct and ten company obligations. (See below: Obligations of Companies) This includes carrying out a rigorous internal monitoring program, as well as submitting to unannounced, Independent External Monitoring Audits of up to 5 percent of our factories each year. Membership in the FLA provides us with access to its extensive expertise in monitoring, training and research. The FLA posts the results of its random audits on its website for everyone to see as part of its commitment to transparency. Members of the FLA are measured on their performance of each of the company obligations. Should the company fulfill each of the requirements, their program may be accredited for three years, after which their program is assessed again for re-accreditation. Patagonia became a fully accredited member of the FLA in October, 2008. As an Accredited Member we are subject, as are our suppliers, to unscheduled audits. Our accreditation comes up for renewal in October. Check out a recent blog we published regarding the FLA auditing Patagonia!

Obligations of Companies

Adopt and communicate a code

  • formally adopt a Code that meets or exceeds FLA standards
  • inform all suppliers in writing
  • post the code in a prominent place in supplier facilities in the local languages of workers and managers
  • ensure that workers are informed orally and educated at regular intervals (to take account of labor turnover)
  • obtain written agreement of suppliers to submit to periodic inspections/audits, including by accredited external monitors, to remediate instances of noncompliances with FLA Workplace Codes of Conduct that arise, and to inform employees about those standards

Train internal compliance staff

  • identify the staff or service provider responsible for implementing their compliance program
  • ensure that they had training in all the areas under their responsibility, including, as appropriate, international and national labor standards, local languages, occupational and production risk factors, and techniques for monitoring, interviewing and remediating
  • update that training at regular intervals

Provide employees with confidential reporting channels

  • encourage the establishment of grievance procedures at supplier facilities
  • provide channels for Company employees and workers at those facilities to contact the Company directly and confidentially if warranted
  • ensure the channel is secure, so workers are not punished or prejudiced for using it

Conduct internal monitoring

  • internally monitor an appropriate sampling of suppliers to assess compliance, which includes worker interviews, records review, occupational safety and health review, practices of suppliers in relation to the FLA Workplace Standards
  • collect, verify, and quantify compliance with workplace standards
  • analyze the monitoring results and implemented remediation plans to address non-compliance issues
  • track the progress of remediation

Submit to Independent External Monitoring

  • provide the FLA with an accurate, up-to-date factory list, factory profile, access letters etc.
  • ensure that the suppliers selected for IEMs cooperate with the FLA monitors
  • cooperate with FLA requests for information, clarification and follow-up in the IEM process

Collect and manage compliance information

  • maintain a data-base
  • generate up-to-date lists of its suppliers when required
  • analyze compliance findings
  • report to the FLA on those activities

Remediate in a timely manner

  • upon receiving the internal and independent external monitoring reports, contact the supplier concerned (within a reasonable time frame) to agree to a remediation plan that addresses all compliance issues identified by the monitor
  • implement a remediation plan regarding the non-compliances and the actions taken to prevent the recurrence of such non-compliances
  • within sixty (60) days, supply the FLA with the remediation plan citing all progress made and a timeline for outstanding items
  • confirm the completion of remediation
  • condition future business with contractors and suppliers upon compliance standards

Take all steps necessary to prevent persistent forms of noncompliance

  • analyze compliance information to identify persistent and/or serious forms of non-compliance
  • establish and implement programs designed to prevent the major forms of such non-compliance
  • take steps to prevent recurrence in other Applicable Facilities where such non-compliance may occur

Consult with civil society

  • maintain links to organizations of civil society involved in labor rights and utilize, where companies deem necessary, such local institutions to facilitate communication with Company employees and employees of contractors and suppliers in the reporting of noncompliance with the workplace standards
  • consult knowledgeable local sources as part of its monitoring activities
  • consult periodically with the legally constituted unions representing employees at the worksite regarding the monitoring process and utilize the input of such unions where appropriate
  • assure the implementation of monitoring is consistent with applicable collective bargaining agreements

Pay dues and meets its other procedural requirements

  • pay annual dues
  • pay IEM administrative and monitoring fees
  • sign and honor required FLA contracts
  • submit factory lists, a standardized annual report and other information in complete form and on time

We encourage you to check out the Fair Labor Association website.