Wage Ladder

On this page, you will find information regarding our Wage Ladder tool, including what it is, why it’s useful and how to access it.

The Wage Ladder is currently under construction. Please check back soon for updates.


Wage Ladder FAQ:

What is the Wage Ladder?
The Fair Wear Foundation Wage Ladder is an easy-to-use online tool that allows the wages paid at any factory to be compared against a range of wage benchmarks. The Wage Ladder generates a clear, easily understandable graphic that shows where a factory’s wages fall short in comparison to these benchmarks.

What is the benefit of the Fair Wear wage ladder?
Brands, suppliers and workers’ representatives can see how current wages compare to living wage estimates – and can begin negotiations on how to make improvements, moving wages ‘up the ladder’ in regular steps. By combining information from Fair Wear’s international stakeholder network with data visualisation techniques, the Wage Ladder replaces stacks of spreadsheets and reports with easy-to-understand graphics, making negotiations much more productive.

What’s different about the version 2.0?
Fair Wear and its members can now compare wages between male and female employees and between different departments, both on a country and region level. A unique new function in the tool enables Fair Wear to analyse trends and better measure progress in garment factories – to see, for example, whether wages have increased between factory audits.

Who determines the benchmarks?
Local trade unions, NGOs, labour groups, business associations, and government agencies have been asked to estimate a living wage for their country or region. International and national benchmarks, such as the Asia Floor Wage, the UN poverty line and wage statistics, have also been included.

What is the reasoning behind Fair Wear’s wage ladder?
Payment of a living wage is one of Fair Wear’s eight labour standards. A living wage means that workers’ basic needs, including food, clothing, housing, healthcare and education, are met. The idea is simple: people who work a normal working week should be able to make a living.

The export-oriented garment industry has great potential to lift millions of workers worldwide out of poverty. In most low-cost production countries, however, wages are too low for workers to meet basic needs, like food, shelter, and health care. The obvious answer to relieving the poverty of workers participating in garment supply chains is to find mechanisms that increase the wages of those at the bottom of the supply chain.

While global garment supply chains generate enormous wealth, improving wages, has proven a challenge. Progress has stalled in discussions about what, exactly, constitutes a living wage. Sidestepping these discussions, Fair Wear has developed a web-based tool that will help garment brands and factories to gradually improve workers’ wages.

What is the difference between a living wage and a legal minimum wage?
Payment of a living wage is one of Fair Wear’s eight labour standards. A living wage means that workers’ basic needs, including food, clothing, housing, healthcare and education, are met. The idea is simple: people who work a normal working week should be able to make a living. In most low-cost production countries, however, legal minimum wages are still too low for workers to meet basic needs.

Is the wage ladder tool only applicable in the garment industry?
The Fair Wear Wage Ladder was originally designed for use in the garment industry, however most wage benchmarks apply to any industry. Brands, factories, NGOs, labour groups and government agencies active in industries as diverse as electronics, toys and agriculture will find the tool helpful.

The Fair Wear Wage Ladder was made possible by the generous support of Dutch trade union CNV Internationaal, Dutch ministry of foreign affairs and ASN Bank.

• Learn more about living wages here
• Access the Wage Ladder Background Study


Photo: Sabine Peters