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:
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.