Search Report
2016 Sustainability Report
published 2017/08/01

Working together for fair working hours

We here at VAUDE think that fair working hours for employees at our production facilities is important. If our producers violate regulations for overtime, we examine the issue together to determine the causes, find solutions and put improvements into place.

Did you know that in some production countries, labor laws regarding working hours are stricter than here in Germany? Here, employees are allowed to work up to 48 hours plus twelve hours of overtime per week. But in China, workers aren’t allowed to over work 40 hours a week with up to 36 hours of overtime a month. During audits of our production facilities, there have been several instances of deviations from labor laws. You can read about what we're doing about it here:

All of our producers are obligated to ensure fair working hours at their production sites. This obligation is as follows:

“Hours of work shall comply with applicable laws and industry standards. In any event, workers shall not on a regular basis be required to work in excess of 48 hours per week and shall be provided with at least one day off for every seven-day period. Overtime shall be voluntary, shall not exceed 12 hours per week, shall not be demanded on a regular basis and shall always be compensated at a premium rate.”

Audits by independent auditors

Any obligation in and of itself is not enough, of course. Therefore, all of our producers are regularly and independently audited by organizations such as the Fair Wear Foundation. Auditors check carefully whether there are violations regarding working hours. This is verified through interviews within and outside the production site as well as by reviewing documents.

  • Are laws regarding overtime respected?
  • Is overtime paid correctly?
  • Is overtime voluntary?
  • Do workers have at least one day off per week? 

Result of the Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) audit

FWF audits show that overtime in our production facilities is voluntary and paid for correctly. Nevertheless, there is too much overtime according to the legal provisions.

Measures we are taking to reduce overtime

We are not leaving the problem of overtime to our producers to fix on their own. We are working together to analyze why overtime is necessary. We are also constantly optimizing our internal planning processes. This helps us ensure that, as the contracting company, we are not the cause of overtime.

Our planning process

There are two seasons per year in the outdoor branch during which production sites manufacture and deliver their goods. This results in very intense conditions during these periods for our producers. We support the producers and reduce peak periods by ensuring that planning processes are sound.

In 2016 we improved our planning process, which – according to the FWF during the Brand Performance Check – was already good. This means:

  • Our planning team is involved at an early stage, gives our producers volume forecasts and clarifies whether the producer has the necessary capacities.
  • This helps us balance out high season orders and low season production.
  • Orders for products that are sold over the course of several seasons are placed earlier so that they can be made during the low season. 
  • We consolidate producers to increase our importance and our influence.

These measures make economic sense for us, because they help us to positively influence costs and to optimise our capacity with several delivery dates. But above all, we have a positive influence on the situation in relation to working conditions and overtime – and that’s just what we want to achieve.

A stable Quality System is important

Our Quality System helps us to not only maintain quality at high standards, but also to influence working conditions at our producers, especially working hours. Our Quality Control employees regularly perform audits during the production process and the final inspections of goods on site at our production sites. Stable quality significantly contributes to the avoidance of overtime. Stable quality reduces repair work and improves productivity - a win-win situation for quality and working conditions.

Root cause analysis at production sites

We have analyzed the causes of overtime together with selected producers. To do this, we developed a tool to collect working hours, the number of overtime hours and relevant departments. This data can then be analyzed to find the causes of the overtime. The results were very interesting both for us and for our producers as well; it was clear that the cause of overtime wasn't only due to poor planning. It was often caused by conditions over which the producer had no influence, such as the late delivery of fabrics or later orders by customers. VAUDE and its producers are faced with the challenge of working on the root causes that can be influenced, such as speaking to the relevant customers to find out whether their purchasing processes can be changed.

GRI:   G4-LA15
Significant actual and potential negative impacts for labor practices in the supply chain and actions taken
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