(SA 8000) Social Accountability Accreditation Services
Social Accountability Accreditation Services (SAAS) is an accreditation agency that works to evaluate, accredit, and monitor organizations that demonstrate competency to audit and certify organizations that conform to social standards. While Social Accountability International (SAI) is the creator and owner of the SA 8000 Standard, SAAS provides oversight to the accreditation of certification bodies and the certification of SA 8000.
How SAAS Got Started
SAAS began work in 1997 as an accreditation department within SAI and was formally established as its own independent, not-for-profit organization in 2007.In 1998, SAAS began accrediting Certification Bodies to perform audits that certify qualifying organizations to the SA 8000 Standard. In the structure of management systems accredited certification, there must be systems in place to control processes and to show that performance is compliant with those requirements. The idea that a system must include objective verification and evaluation for competence to perform their task was at the core of developing an accreditation and oversight system.SAAS is the only international accreditation body offering third party accreditation for social audit certification systems. SAAS has built its reputation by offering systems to provide oversight of social audit programs in a consistent, reliable, and transparent manner.SA 8000 certification is a management systems standard, modeled on ISO standards. The management systems criteria require that facilities seeking to gain and maintain certification must go beyond simple compliance to the standard, but also integrate it into their management systems and practices and demonstrate ongoing conformance with the standard. Certification is granted by independent certification bodies that are accredited and overseen by Social Accountability Accreditation Services (SAAS).
The SA 8000 Standard was developed by Social Accountability International. SAI is a global multi-stakeholder standard-setting organization whose mission is to advance the human rights of workers around the world. SAI works to protect the integrity of those workers by building local capacity and developing systems of accountability through socially responsible standards.
SAI is the developer and publisher of SA 8000 but does not itself carry out auditing and certification. These services are performed independently of SAI by Certification Bodies. SAI, working with SAAS, develops system requirements to encourage good practice on a worldwide basis. As SA 8000 is a closed accreditation and certification system, certification bodies seeking to conduct recognized SA 8000 audits and issue SA 8000 certificates must apply to SAAS for accreditation.
SA 8000 certification is used in both private and public sectors to increase confidence in a company’s working conditions and as a tool to implement international labor standards. SA 8000 guides employers to consider the importance of each job and to recognize the equal dignity of each person involved in the supply chain.
SA 8000 defines the requirements for an organization’s quality management system, not for its products. Accredited certification to SA 8000 provides confidence in the organization’s ability to meet the requirements in the Standard – it does not necessarily ensure that the organization will always achieve 100% conformity – though this is a permanent goal.