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Ensuring Compliance on Overtime Work by Monitoring Suppliers

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In 2013, Gap — a global clothing and accessories retailer — was exposed in an investigative BBC documentary for sourcing apparel manufactured in Bangladeshi garment factories that exhibited unlawful labour practices and enforced excessive overtime. It was reported that workers were employed for 15-hour shifts at a time, often without freedom to leave the factory, and were not paid overtime wages. While some of the allegations were challenged, the company discontinued business with the garment manufacturer operating the factory.

In response to labour compliance issues surrounding overtime work, Gap established numerous methods that aim to reduce the prevalence of labour violations. For example, the Better Buying initiative was introduced for the business to address the impact its buying practices have on garment manufacturers’ working hours. The initiative also monitors other aspects of the buying and development process, which enables the sourcing team to effectively plan in accordance with supplier capacity.

Gap also imposes requirements across its supplier base that specifically aim to mitigate excessive working time. The requirements include the ability for workers to refuse overtime without consequence and work no more than six consecutive days. Facilities must also take corrective action in any instance of excessive overtime, as well as implement mitigation measures targeting the root cause of the working time violation.

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