ECA Frequently Asked Questions

Are you a shopper, TCF Business, student or interested in learning more about ECA accreditation? We have answered our most asked questions below. Simply click on which section applies to you to find the relevant FAQ’s!

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Shopper?

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Are you a…

TCF Business?

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Do you need…

Accreditation Information?

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Compliance Information

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Student

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Are You A Shopper?

What does Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA) do?

ECA is an accreditation body that works with local textile, clothing and footwear (TCF) businesses that manufacture in Australia. ECA ensures that the business and their supply chains are adhering to local workplace laws. We audit the entire supply chain from design to dispatch ensuring that workers are being paid correctly, receiving the right entitlements and are working in a safe environment. You can find out more about ECA here or our history here.

Does an ECA-accreditation address the sustainability and environmental impacts of fast fashion?

Our accreditation program remit specifically focuses on the rights and entitlements of garment workers. We audit the entire supply chain from design to dispatch ensuring that workers are being paid correctly, receiving the right entitlements and are working in a safe environment.

Whilst our remit is defined by the above, many of our accredited businesses are addressing other areas and are doing incredible work to address sustainability and environmental concerns. You can find out more about ECA here or our history here.

Does an ECA accreditation look at what products are made from, such as vegan materials?

Our accreditation program remit specifically focuses on the rights and entitlements of garment workers. We audit the entire supply chain from design to dispatch ensuring that workers are being paid correctly, receiving the right entitlements and are working in a safe environment. Whilst our remit is defined by the above, many of our accredited businesses are addressing and doing incredible work in other areas and some of the businesses that are accredited with ECA identify as vegan brands. Stay tuned as due to demand we will be adding a vegan category to our ECA shopping guide very soon!

How do I know if a product I am buying is accredited by ECA? Does this mean that all products from that business are made ethically in Australia?

An ECA accreditation should not be viewed as a ‘blanket endorsement’ of an individual brand or business.

ECA’s accreditation program covers textile, clothing and footwear manufacturing and associated value adding functions that takes place in Australia. The ECA trademark can ONLY be displayed on products that are made in Australia. You can find out more about the use of our trademark here.

That said, also having products made overseas does not disqualify a business from undergoing the accreditation process for their garments that are specifically made in Australia.

How do you know if a product is ECA-accredited online and in-store? You can look for the ECA swing tag in stores, or online on businesses’ websites. Some businesses will also state ‘Made In Australia’ in their product descriptions online. You can browse all of our accredited brands here.

What is a Homeworker/Outworker?

Outworkers or homeworkers conduct their work outside of a formal work environment . Homeworkers usually work from home or at a location not normally classified as a business premises (for example a garage attached to residential premises). Due to the hidden nature of home-based work, it is hard to determine the exact number of homeworkers in Australia. Many homeworkers in Australia are migrant women who come from non-English speaking backgrounds and often do not understand their rights as Australian workers. These workers make clothing for Australian designers, fashion retailers and uniform suppliers. They often experience unethical working conditions and unreasonable expectations such as,

  • Long working hours
  • Not receiving the legal Award rate of pay
  • Can be paid by piece which places a significant amount of pressure to work extensive hours and produce more garments
  • Face irregular work and insecure income
  • Can have poor working conditions which lead to work related injuries
  • Often don’t receive their lawful industrial entitlements such as paid annual and personal leave or superannuation.

There is a widespread reluctance from homeworkers to speak up about their maltreatment, due to fear of jeopardising their work supply. Such concerns are exacerbated by the low incomes that many homeworkers live on. While some workers may prefer to work from home because it enables them to generate an income while meeting family responsibilities, some homeworkers struggle to get work elsewhere and have little choice but to work from home at rates set by the business.

What is the difference between an ECA brand and manufacturer or a value-adder?

Under ECA’s Code of Practice all accredited businesses are manufacturers, however, it is understood that businesses operate differently. To assist with publicly promoting accredited manufacturers, ECA ’s breaks this information down into three categories: brands, manufacturers and value-adders. When we refer to a ‘brand’ these businesses sell direct to consumer . An accredited ‘manufacturer’ may not sell direct to consumers – it may only take on purchase orders and procurement contracts. These businesses are still accredited by ECA and undergo the same compliance audits to ensure that their workers’ rights are being upheld. A value-adding activities on Australian-made garments are eligible for accreditation, while value-adding activities on imported garments are not, on their own, eligible for accreditation. To be eligible as a value-adding business (e.g. embroidery and screen printing) the business must be providing a value-adding service to the industry and not only value-adding to their own product.

If you are a shopper/consumer you can browse ECA-accredited brands here. If you are a TCF business, procurement manager, or looking to place an order, you can browse an accredited manufacturer or value-adder here. 

Are You A TCF Business?

I need a manufacturer/maker for my business, can Ethical Clothing Australia give me a recommendation/referral?

As an accreditation body we are only able to provide direct manufacturing referrals to businesses that are accredited by ECA. This way we can ensure fair and legal procedures are being followed by the individual businesses, as per our accreditation program and in accordance with the TCF Award and other relevant legislation.

Please feel free to explore the ECA Accredited Manufacturers listed on our website and contact those you feel may be suitable for your requirements.

We are always very happy to work with brands and manufacturers towards ECA accreditation, and should you be currently or in due course be manufacturing locally and would like to find out more please get in touch so we can walk you through the Benefits Of ECA Accreditation and Steps To ECA Accreditation

I’m looking to procure Australian-made TCF products, can Ethical Clothing Australia assist?

ECA aims to assist private businesses, government bodies, and other organisations to procure Australian-made TCF products by connecting them with ECA-accredited manufacturers. If you’re a procurement manager, you can find more information here. You can also explore the list of ECA Accredited Manufacturers and contact those you feel may be suitable for your requirements.

Are You A Business Interested In Becoming Accredited?

Is my business eligible to be accredited by ECA?

There are number of factors that determine a business’s eligibility for accreditation by ECA, first and foremost your business must be manufacturing TCF products in Australia. Please complete ECA’s eligibility quiz to understand more about the requirements of accreditation. You can also read ECA’s Accreditation Guidelines, Code of Practice, and Fee & Manufacturing Form.

Do I already have to be manufacturing TCF products in Australia to be eligible?

To be eligible for ECA accreditation your business must be manufacturing TCF products in-house or arranging the manufacture of TCF products with local suppliers. At the time of application for ECA accreditation, your business should already be in the production stage, for example  sampling alone does not qualify your business for accreditation.

How much does accreditation cost?

Fees start from $322 + GST and are dependent on the size of your individual business’ manufacturing structure. For more information please review ECA’s Fee & Manufacturing Form and refer to the Fee Schedule on page two. The accreditation fee is invoiced annually at the time of your business’s renewal and will be based on the projection of your upcoming year’s manufacturing structure.

How long does it take to become accredited?

The timeframe will vary depending on the specific nature of the applicant’s manufacturing circumstances and the size of any supply chain. The length of time will also be dependent on the cooperation of the applicant and the supply chain participants. In practice, most smaller applications will be completed well within three to six months. For larger businesses with complex supply chains, the compliance work may take up to 12 months. For more information refer to ECA’s Accreditation Guidelines.

How long does accreditation last?

ECA accreditation involves an annual compliance audit, which is important to ensure ongoing compliance. Your business’s accreditation period commences on the date that the initial annual fee is paid, and this will remain your business’s renewal date going forward. Accreditation renewal is dependent on payment of the annual fee and successful completion of the annual compliance audit each year.

How does the annual compliance audit get carried out?

The compliance audit is carried out on our behalf by a Compliance Officer from the TCF Union, you can meet our Compliance Team here. The Accreditation Guidelines include a compliance audit overview, detailing what the Compliance Officer will work through with the applicant and its suppliers.

Do my suppliers have to be compliant for me to be accredited?

As part of the annual compliance audit, all local suppliers within a business’s supply chain will be captured. As per ECA’s Accreditation Guidelines the primary business should inform their suppliers that the accreditation process does not require them to do anything above and beyond what their legal requirements already compel them to do. ECA can work with businesses in your supply chain to address concerns and assist them to understand their obligations and requirements under the TCF Award and the accreditation process. The compliance audit is a collaborative process, designed to assist the business and its suppliers to achieve legal compliance. For more information refer to ECA’s Accreditation Guidelines here.

What benefits does accreditation give my business?

There are a range of benefits to having your business accredited by ECA, you can read about these here. 

Can I use ECA’s trademark?

The use of ECA’s trademark is limited to businesses that are accredited by ECA. The trademark indicates that the business manufactures TCF products ethically in Australia and its manufacturing operations have undergone a thorough compliance audit in line with the TCF Award and other relevant legislation. For more information refer to ECA’s Trademark Usage Guidelines here. 

Do You Need More Information For Your Business About TCF Industry Compliances?

What is the Textile, Clothing, Footwear and Associated Industries Award 2010 (TCFAI Award)?

The TCFAI Award is the relevant federal modern award for the Australian TCF industry. Along with the Fair Work Act 2009 and the National Employment Standards, the TCFAI Awards sets out the minimum conditions of employment, which TCF businesses must meet. Some state awards and other relevant legislation may also apply to the TCF industry. For more information refer to the TCFAI Award and the ECA Award Guide Here.

What is the Board of Reference (BOR)?

Any TCF business that gives work out to a supplier or individual to manufacture TCF products is required by law to register with the Fair Work Commission’s TCF Industry Board of Reference (BOR). This must be done prior to the business giving out work. If a business is giving work out and is not registered with the BOR, it is in breach of the TCFAI Award.

Registration needs to be completed annually and a business must also supply a quarterly list detailing the suppliers and/or individuals that have been given work in that period. These quarterly lists need to be submitted within seven days from the end of February, May, August and November of each year.

Any of a business’s suppliers who give work out themselves also need to be registered with the BOR. Before giving work out to other suppliers and/or individuals who give out work themselves, a business should ask them to provide their BOR registration number.

Please find BOR registration forms here, For more information refer to ECA’s Award Guide.

Where can I find more information about Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) and WorkCover?

As part of the annual compliance audit, conducted as part of ECA accreditation, numerous OH&S and WorkCover items are assessed. For more information about what is included in the annual compliance audit refer to ECA’s Accreditation Guidelines here.

All Australian businesses must comply with OH&S and WorkCover requirements, it is important to note that laws and regulations vary from between states. For more information contact the Union here and/or your local WorkCover authority:

VIC – WorkSafe

NSW – WorkCover

WA – WorkCover and WorkSafe

NT – WorkSafe

ACT – WorkSafe

TAS – WorkSafe and WorkCover

SA – WorkCover

Where can I find more information?

For more information visit our Business Resources page or get in contact with ECA here. 

Are You A Student?

Does ECA participate in university/higher education studies, interviews and assignments?

Yes, ECA is willing to provide comments and insights for your relevant studies if applicable to our accreditation program and mission. Please contact info@ethicalclothingaustralia.org.au for more information.

Can an ECA representative speak to my students at an event or as part of a course?

Yes, ECA representatives including our accreditation team and National Manager are available to speak at relevant student events/seminars. Please reach out to info@ethicalclothingaustralia.org.au to find out more.

Can I volunteer or do a student placement with ECA?

ECA do not accept any unpaid work opportunities such as unpaid internships or volunteers. However, if you are a student who is required to complete a student placement as part of your degree we do accept these short-term student placements . Please reach out to info@ethicalclothingaustralia.org.au with details about your university study requirements.