Improving working conditions in your clothing supply chain

6: Excessive overtime

Excessive overtime is one of the most common problems in the apparel industry. In most countries, workers are only supposed to work a maximum average of 48 hours per week. In reality, it is often much higher.

There are two major issues the drive excessive overtime:

Poor production planning by brands: Late changes to product are common, and if factories don’t have excess capacity, the only way to deliver product on time is to require excessive overtime. If factories don’t deliver, then can rapidly go bankrupt.

Low wage levels:  Many workers choose to work lots of overtime – not because they want to, but because their base wages are so low that without overtime they could not afford rent or food.

Long hours affect the quality of the work and the safety of the workers. By far the most workplace accidents happen during overtime, when workers are tired. Overtime also puts special stresses on the large number of workers who are women: they are often still responsible for cooking and child care, and must often rely on unsafe public transit to commute home late at night or early in the morning.

Brands can do a lot to prevent excessive overtime – often by taking steps that improve overall business performance.  Consult our resources and learn more about it!