The Clothing Outworker Code of Practice has applied in South Australia since 1 March 2008.

This Code of Practice ensures:

  • greater protection for clothing outworkers by creating greater transparency in the supply and production of clothing
  • a fair system that supports the integrity of employers who act responsibly in the production and sale of clothing.

An outworker is someone engaged to work (e.g. given articles or materials to be made up, cleaned, altered, finished or repaired) at their own home or other location which would not normally be regarded as a place where business or commercial activity is conducted.

The nature of the clothing industry means that outworkers are vulnerable in the workforce as they are often engaged through a long chain of contractors. The Code applies to persons engaged in manufacturing, distribution and retailing of clothing products in South Australia. Clothing retailers, suppliers and contractors are now required to provide and maintain records relating to the engagement of outworkers and show how clothing has been produced and supplied.

The Code was developed through consultation with key stakeholders and developments in laws in other states and the Commonwealth. The Code limits employers who seek to shop around for the cheapest labour in different states and maintains consistency with the current requirements of relevant industrial standards.

Homeworkers Code of Practice

The obligations in the Code complement and encourage compliance with the national and voluntary Homeworkers Code of Practice (Voluntary Code). A party engaged in the clothing industry is exempt from the mandatory Code if it is a signatory to, or accredited under, the Voluntary Code, available from Ethical Clothing Australia.

The Voluntary Code is agreed between organisations representing stakeholders involved in the manufacture and supply of clothing products which have been manufactured (or worked on) in Australia, including the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia, the Australian Retailers Association and other associations and individual companies.

The Voluntary Code is closely linked to FairWear, which aims to eliminate the exploitation of outworkers in the Australian clothing industry through actively encouraging Australians to think about where and how their clothing is produced.

Accredited companies benefit from having a group of suppliers they can select from who are meeting legal and community standards. Which means companies can be certain that their clothing products and brand names are protected from unscrupulous activities.

The accreditation process assists companies to develop strong and reliable relationships with suppliers who are providing ongoing assurance of quality, delivery time and meeting both community and legal standards and supports branding protection, integrity of products and minimises poor publicity.

National Industrial Relations

All South Australian private sector businesses (including the non-government community services sector, private schools and universities) have been covered by the Commonwealth Fair Work Act 2009 and are therefore part of the national industrial relations system.

The modern award relevant to the clothing industry, including wages and conditions of employment, is the Textile, Clothing, Footwear and Associated Industries Award.

Related information

Fair Work (Clothing Outworker Code of Practice) Regulations 2022 (SA Legislation)