FSLM – Getting Started

Learn the Basics

1. What is the Higg FSLM?

The Higg FSLM offers the first converged framework of the Social & Labor Convergence Program (SLCP) to assess working conditions in the global value chain. This groundbreaking online assessment is an industry effort to improve social and labor conditions for supply chain workers while reducing audit fatigue for factories around the world. It can be used at any tier of manufacturing.

The Higg FSLM questionnaire has adopted the data collection tool of SLCP on the Higg.org platform. 

To learn more about SLCP and their Converged Assessment Framework , please click here to get details.

2. What does FSLM measure?

The FSLM measures overall social labor practices, tracking of management systems, operational controls, oversight, and worker & stakeholder engagement.

The FSLM measures:

  • Recruitment and Hiring
  • Working Hours
  • Wages and Benefits
  • Worker Treatment
  • Worker Involvement
  • Health and Safety
  • Termination
  • Management Systems
  • Above and beyond

3. What are the benefits to use FSLM?

The FSLM assessment is an industry effort to improve social and labor conditions for supply chain workers while reducing audit fatigue for factories around the world. It can be used at any tier of manufacturing. 

Consumers are demanding transparency around working conditions for every step of the supply chain. Brands, retailers, and manufacturers of all sizes can use the Higg FSLM assess social and labor conditions for the workers who produce billions of garments, textiles, and footwear each year. Together, we can create and support safe and fair working conditions for all.

4. What is new for the 2021 Higg FSLM? FSLM content change: you can learn more here. The SLCP will launch the CAF 1.4 version. Below are the changes for FSLM CAF 1.4 version. 1) Redefinition of Steps – Step 1 now includes the essential social labor data points you need: SLCP has better matched the modules with needs of stakeholders and introduced a new step approach:

i. Step 1 Essential: focuses on key social & labor compliance questions, mostly connected to International Labor Standards (ILS) and National Labor Law (NLL), making it well suited for the majority of stakeholders.

ii. Step 2 Progressive: focuses on management systems and questions that are additional/supportive social & labor compliance questions but less critical. These questions are often found in social industry and certification standards.

iii. Step 3 Advanced: questions that go above and beyond social responsibility industry standards, are not required by national or international law, and seek to elevate workplace well-being and community impact.

2) Reduction in number of data points – Facilities can more easily enter the program through the Step 1 Essential scope:
  •   SLCP has better matched data points with needs of stakeholders and have reduced the # of questions greatly (59% in Step 1 and 29% overall).
  •   Smaller facilities can more easily complete their assessment (Step 1 Essential now contains a maximum of 901 data points that could be applicable to a facility – down from over 2,200!)
  •   This streamlined tool is more efficient for both facilities and Verifiers
3) Offline Excel user interface – The revamped tool is more user-friendly for facilities and Verifiers:
  •   Although the offline Tool is still supported, SLCP recommends using the Accredited Host platforms to have the best experience with Tool completion, especially for MAC users
  •   Users will no longer have a long “load” time when transitioning from online to offline
  •   The Tool has more validation, ensuring less mistakes during completion
  •   SLCP and Accredited Hosts can also make Tool updates quicker (e.g., improvements to More Info or updates to translations)
4) Facility Guidance – Facilities now have one resource that contains all the information they need to understand and complete an assessment, including how to better engage workers during the SLCP assessment process:
  •   The Guidance can be referenced throughout the SLCP process, from registration to self-assessment completion and sharing of the final verified assessment report
  •   It consolidates information from various sources (e-learning, trainings, FAQs, Verification Protocol) and is organized according to the SLCP assessment process
5) More Detailed Verification Selection Drop-Downs – Now you can better understand a facility’s response to a Tool question
  •   Verifiers can now select from a broader range of options when verifying facility responses: Accurate, Inaccurate, Updated during verification, Facility did not reply during SA/JA, Not visible to facility during SA/JA, No longer applicable due to verification, Not applicable due to special facility circumstances, Verification not required*
  •   *Verification not required is a new option specifically introduced for facility questions that cannot easily be verified through documentation review or observation
  •   These more detailed responses enable a better understanding of the facility response – whether there was a misinterpretation of the question, whether the question didn’t show during the assessment because another question was answered incorrectly, etc.
6) Coming Soon: Automated Country-Specific Law Overlay for Step 1 (select countries only*) – SLCP has enhanced the quality of verified assessment reports:
  •   With the help of ILO-BetterWork SLCP has revised questions in Step 1 to better align with international labor standards (ILS) and national labor law (NLL), and ensure legal non-compliances are better captured and country law is applied consistently across verifications
  •   National Law Guidance is included on Accredited Host platforms at the question level (where applicable) to educate facilities (during self/joint-assessment) and Verifiers (during verification) on applicable standards in the assessment country
  •   The Law Overlay will ensure Verifiers apply ILS and NLL, as applicable, consistently across all verifications in a specific country
  •   *This will be rolled out in ILO-BetterWork countries to start. The first countries to receive a Law Overlay for Step 1 are Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam
Click here to learn more about ILO Better Work program. 7) Other improvements:
CAF v1.3 CAF v1.4 Reason for change
Employees Workers Better reflects scope of SLCP which includes anyone working on product or machinery, not only those considered “employees” under applicable law
Past 12 months No longer included in questions but highlighted in all Guidance documents Simplify and shorten questions while including instructions on applying the past 12 months in Tool Instructions, Facility Guidance, Verification Protocol & Verifier Guidance
More Info: “Yes”/ “No” should be chosen More Info: Answer Yes/ Answer No Shorter & clearer for facilities and Verifiers
Follow up questions (e.g. that asked “If yes or no, please describe…”) Additional information added by Verifier to Verification Data narrative and facility to Facility Comments sub-sections Simplify assessment process by reducing number of questions

FSLM Platform Changes

1) Completion rate: module completion rate still remains over 95% to post the module. 

2) FSLM dashboard: for the FSLM CAF 1.4 dashboard, we add the version (e.g., CAF 1.4) of FSLM. In addition, we only provide Chinese and English versions of FSLM through excel and online assessment with launching. Other languages will be coming soon. 

3) CSV: We provide the CSV for FSLM CAF 1.4 and 1.3 separately. The bulk FSLM CAF 1.3 will be still available to download. Users can export it from the FSLM CAF 1.4 dashboard and FSLM module page. 

4) New countries rolling out: South Africa, Canada, Japan, Singapore, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia,  Netherlands,  Serbia, United Kingdom, Ukraine. Our platform will be able to support these countries from Apr 16, 2021. Please check the launched countries for SLCP operations here

5) Country law overlay won’t be launched in Apr but will be coming soon. Facilities who purchase the FSLM before launching can’t get this feature in their FSLM. After it is launched, facilities will be able to see this functionality in their FSLM. Learn more about country law overlay here

6) Adoption tool: the adoption tool will be able to support managing and tracking FSLM CAF 1.4 module status. The new features will be released in Apr. 

7) How to Update Your FSLM Assessment from CAF 1.3 to CAF 1.4 version?

  • You must purchase the FSLM modules from Sep 1 2020 and your FSLM module status is either NS (Not Started) or ASI (Assessment Incomplete). 
  • If your facility’s FSLM CAF 1.3 assessment is in NS status, you do not need to contact the support team. Higg will automatically convert your FSLM assessment to CAF 1.4.
  • To replace your FSLM CAF 1.3 assessment in “Assessment Incomplete” (ASI) status with CAF 1.4, submit a ticket here by April 30

5. What else should you know about FSLM?

The FSLM CAF 1.4 is released with an unscored version. The scoring will be launched for FSLM CAF 1.4 later this year. The scoring still works for FSLM CAF 1.3. See detailed FSLM CAF 1.3 scoring information here. FSLM CAF 1.4 Benchmarking will be released in late 2021.

Please click here to learn more about the SLCP assessment tool and process.

6. Why was CAF v1.3 updated?

SLCP reviewed CAF v1.3 to enhance user-friendliness for facilities and better tailor to facility and stakeholders’ needs:

  • Consolidate Tool: make it more user-friendly and widely applicable (including to SMEs)
  • Enhance alignment with international standards and national legislation
  • Identify data points for compatibility between modules and stakeholders’ needs (e.g. proprietary or industry Codes of Conduct and standards)
  • Review data points in line with 2019 Ops feedback and relevant updates
  • Create opportunities for worker engagement in the self/joint-assessment

7. What was SLCP’s updating process?

  •   Along with ILO-BW as co-lead and the support of a Taskforce (an extended Technical Advisory Committee), the SLCP secretariat undertook a review of the CAF v1.3 Tool content in Q1 and 2 of 2020.
  •   In Q3, the prototype of CAF v1.4 was tested in about a dozen facilities, based in China, India, Pakistan, Taiwan, Turkey, Vietnam and Indonesia.
  •   Simultaneously, the prototype of CAF v1.4 was put out for consultation with all our signatories and key partners/stakeholders.
  •   After the testing & consultation phase, we locked the content of the Tool v1.4, integrated it on the Gateway and Accredited Host platforms, executed translation, updated e-learning, and finalized the rest of CAF v1.4 (Verification Protocol, Verifier Guidance, Facility Guidance).

Continuing key SLCP assessment principles:

AreaWhat has stayed the same?What is different?
Tool philosophy
  • Self or joint-assessment followed by verification;
  • Section categorization per lifecycle of worker;
  • No judgment/grading
  • Legal Flags for national law non-compliance in v1.3 are now “Non-Compliance” for both national and international standards in v1.4
Categorization of data points
  • Same sections (e.g. Facility Profile, Recruitment & Hiring)
  • Sub-section and category level changes
  • Redefinition of Steps: Essential, Progressive, Advanced
  • Same social and labor topics (e.g. Wages, Health & Safety, etc.)
  • Drastic reduction in data points to avoid redundancies and streamline Tool
Look and feel
  • Same color scheme in offline Tool v1.3 and v1.4 & same sections
  • All data points in one Excel sheet so navigation is different
  • Still keeping Excel for offline and Accredited Hosts for online completion;
  • Continuing use of same unique question IDs in v1.4 where feasible
  • Some unique question IDs will necessarily change (where questions significantly changed or new questions were added)

8. What is the Law Guidance in SLCP?

The Law Guidance is a new feature of the Social & Labor Convergence Program’s Converged Assessment Framework. It is a guide that outlines information about international labor standards, national laws, and ILO norms. The Law Guidance determines a facility’s compliance with these legal standards. Please click here to learn more about the Law Guidance.

What to Prepare

9. How long will it take you to complete the FSLM?

The time required to complete the Higg FSLM will vary depending on your understanding level of the questions and how much of the required data and information you have already collected prior to starting the module. Typically, it will take between 3-6 weeks to complete the full module.

Higg FSLM should be completed once every 12 months. This module is on a “rolling cycle” meaning there is no deadline and the assessment can be completed at any time throughout the year. The SAC encourages its members and users to follow the same timeline as Higg FEM, to post their modules by June 30th. The consistent timeline encourages streamlined planning and reporting.

Please click here to get more guidance to help you complete the FSLM.

10. Who to engage on the Higg FSLM?

Make sure that you have engaged the relevant subject matter experts at your facility to complete the Higg FSLM. Below is a checklist of suggested personnel that you can engage to get the most accurate information for each Higg Index Section:

How to Get Started

11. Overall Process of Navigating FSLM
12. How do I roll my previous data forward?

Data roll forward currently is removed for FSLM because data from CAF 1.3 assessments will not roll forward to new CAF 1.4 assessments. We will keep you posted on when this functionality is back to our platform for FSLM CAF 1.4.

13. Higg FSLM CAF 1.4 Scoring System Guide

The FSLM assesses social & labor conditions in global facilities where workers produce billions of garments, textiles, and footwear every year. The FSLM helps manufacturers, brands, and retailers understand the social and labor impacts of their value chain, reduce audit fatigue, and make proactive improvements.

The foundation of the FSLM is the Social & Labor Convergence Program’s (SLCP) Converged Assessment Framework (CAF). The FSLM is continuously updated and improved in sync with SLCP’s framework. Any changes to scoring will be posted here and in the appropriate sections.

The FSLM scoring system is designed to be universal and drive behavior change. This means points are only assigned to universal questions that drive actions, decisions, and practices that lead to better social and labor sustainability outcomes. Points are not assigned to questions with text entry answers or with conditions that serve as information only.

The first version of the FSLM scoring system is applicable to FSLM CAF v1.3, which was launched on October 2020 (Please refer to the scoring system on CAF v1.3 for details).

The FSLM scoring system outlined below was introduced in June 2021. It applies to FSLM CAF v1.4.

The Facility Social & Labor Module (FSLM) CAF v1.4 scores a facility on its performance across nine sections:

  1. Recruitment and Hiring
  2. Working Hours
  3. Wages and Benefits
  4. Employee Treatment
  5. Employee Involvement
  6. Health and Safety
  7. Termination
  8. Management Systems
  9. Empowering People and Communities

The score is out of a possible 100 points. Each section in the facility social and labor tool consists of 100 points and is weighted differently based on Step weightage in the total score.  

The FSLM consists of three steps, and each section from the assessment is grouped into three steps. The FSLM Step Score is out of possible 100 points.  However, each step is weighted differently when calculating the FSLM Total Score.

FSLM Total Scores are calculated based on the step(s) completed and based on the weightage. This means the maximum total score a facility can earn is based on the step(s) the facility chooses to complete in the FSLM. As a result, to earn the maximum 100 points in the FSLM total score, a facility must complete all three steps.

Each question of the Higg FSLM is scored differently based on the seriousness of the issue and compliant with the international labor standard or local legal requirement. Questions are categorized into four risk levels and weighed differently. The Higg FSLM Risk Score is based on the total number of questions of a specific risk level achieved divided by the total maximum number of a specific risk level a module is applicable to. The Higg FSLM Risk Score is out of a possible 100 points of each Risk level. 

Questions related to local legal requirements are categorized as Legal Compliance Risk and calculated based on the total number of questions of a specific risk level achieved divided by the total maximum number of a specific risk level a module is applicable to. The Higg FSLM Legal Compliance Risk Score is out of a possible 100 points. 

NOTE: In the Facility Profile section, if you answer “No” to the question relating to “Operating license/registration is available and up to date” (FP-OPE-1), you will receive a score of zero for the entire assessment. Facilities must have a valid operating license to receive a score.