This page provides regular updates from IETP on the actions we are taking to respond to COVID-19 and manage the impacts of the virus on our buyer and factory members, staff members, and partners. IETP is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and we will review our processes and update them as required.
(Last updated on 2 April 2020)
IETP Extends Certification Validity to 1st October 2020
2 April 2020 | The impacts of COVID-19 continue to be felt globally, creating unprecedented challenges for our industry.
More than half the world’s population faces some form of restrictions on their daily lives. A large number of brick and mortar retail stores selling non-essential items remain closed, many on-line retailers are focussed on supplying essential goods, and employees at other businesses are either furloughed or working remotely.
Some categories are experiencing growth, but others continue to face rapidly slowing consumer demand and halted orders.
Whilst some travel restrictions remain in different parts of China, many factories have resumed operations and production capacity has increased. However, the outlook for Q2 and the beginning of Q3 looks less certain as factories are faced with new business challenges related to COVID-19 including reduced or canceled orders, withheld shipments and delayed payments.
Beyond China, travel restrictions and actions to manage the spread of COVID-19 are disrupting business operations in other toy manufacturing countries including Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia.
To help support factories and buyers manage through these challenging circumstances, ICTI Ethical Toy Program (IETP) is extending Certification validity to 1st October 2020 for renewing factories that are due for an audit in the coming months.
Further information on this change is included below.
Extension of IETP Certification to 1st October 2020 for renewing factories
Any factory with a current certification that is due to expire between April 1st, 2020 to September 30th, 2020 will be granted an extension to their certification to October 1st, 2020. This change will be implemented with immediate effect.
What happens to my IETP Certification?
All factories whose IETP Certification is due to expire between April 1st, 2020 to October 1st, 2020 will be contacted by the IETP team who will explain more about the certification extension, discuss options with the factory, and answer any questions they may have.
I still want to go ahead with an audit to renew my IETP Certification for 12 months, can I do this?
Yes, IETP’s regular Initial Annual Audits (IAA), which are usually required to renew IETP certification for 12 months, are still available to those factories that wish to follow our standard process for renewing their certification.
Our team will discuss this option when we contact factories to explain more about the Certification extension. Alternatively, factories can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is there any change to the new factory’s application procedure?
The application process for new factories remains unchanged. New factories that wish to apply to become IETP Certified still need to follow our standard application process and will be required to undergo an Initial Certification Audit (ICA) and participate in any follow-up audits as necessary.
Will scheduling for Progress Visits change?
The process for Progress Visits (PV) will not change and PVs will continue to be scheduled as usual to review and discuss the factory's progress in maintaining IETP’s social compliance standards, with guidance and support provided to help them address challenges. An assigned PV specialist will contact factories in advance to confirm the date for the PV.
Are any further changes to the IETP Certification extension period planned?
The IETP Certification extension period will not be reduced, this is to provide factories and buyers with certainty over the coming months. IETP will continue to review the situation and further extensions may be considered as the extent of impacts from COVID-19 enfold.
How else is IETP helping factories and buyers manage the impacts related to COVID-19?
In addition to extending the certification validity period for renewing factories, IETP has implemented a number of other measures to help factories and their buyers manage the impacts related to COVID-19:
Factories are reminded that they should continue to make every effort to remain in compliance with the IETP standards and to safeguard the safety and well-being of their workforce. In all cases, factories should ensure that overtime for their workers is not excessive, and that rest periods are respected. Where appropriate, factories are encouraged to use our Self Declaration Process so we can ensure transparency is maintained, workers are protected, and factories are supported as they manage impacts arising from COVID-19.
As factories seek to increase capacity both now and in the coming months, we want to help them recruit responsibly. IETP’s Recruitment Practices Briefing provides clear guidance and best practice to help factory owners, managers, and supervisors avoid recruitment pitfalls. This Briefing is available to download in both English and Chinese.
Factories should also ensure that their workers are aware of IETP’s Worker Helpline and that workers know how to contact it. The Worker Helpline is available to support all workers employed at IETP certified factories in China. Our Helpline team staff are trained to support workers and are briefed to address concerns related to COVID-19. The Worker Helpline number is 4001-583580. Further information on our Worker Helpline is available here.
Update from 17th March 2020:
Audit Arrangements in Mainland China
Audits resume for most areas in mainland China
As factories in China continue to resume operations and production capacity increases, IETP’s third-party audit firm partners have also resumed audits in most areas. We continue to monitor the latest work and transportation arrangements announced by different provinces and cities and make any necessary adjustments.
All IETP staff located in Hong Kong and mainland China have now returned to work, and our offices have resumed full operations. IETP’s Progress Visits have also resumed.
Special arrangements for factories
IETP has implemented special arrangements to support those factories whose onsite audits and certification progress was delayed due to disruption related to COVID-19. IETP has already identified all factories directly affected and our teams are contacting management at these factories to discuss the situation and how it will affect them.
Any factories which have already paid their audit fees but have not yet been audited due to delays associated with COVID-19 should email their assigned audit firm (please also ‘Cc email@example.com) to explain the delay and request that their audit is rescheduled.
Under certain circumstances, IETP can grant factories temporary exemptions relating to audit checklist requirements via IETP’s self-declaration process. This self-declaration process was established to increase transparency and to advance social compliance.
Using the self-declaration process, factories that discover a non-compliance (NC) in-between audits can voluntarily declare the NC to IETP prior to their next audit or progress visit. IETP will then decide whether to exempt the declared NC taking into account issue severity and other considerations.
To help alleviate some of the pressures on IETP certified factories related to COVID-19, maintain transparency, support business continuity and help protect job security for workers, IETP encourages factories to use the self-declaration process to proactively report any non-compliances which may arise as they resume operations.
This includes NCs which may arise from the need to work extra hours as factories catch-up on lost production time and/or respond to tight production schedules arising from the challenging business environment.
The IETP Audit Checklist requires that working hours must not exceed 72 hours a week. IETP will consider the following exemptions related to working hours:
- working hours may be up to 78 hours in a week providing all applicable requirements related to rest breaks are also fulfilled;
- worker(s) must not work over 13 days consecutively
IETP will evaluate self-reported violation on a case by case basis, IETP reserves the right to grant exemption at our discretion. Further information and instruction on IETP’s Self-Declaration procedure for factories is as follow ( Plain Form / Sample Form)
Worker Helpline to support factories and workers
IETP’s Worker Helpline is available to support all workers employed at IETP certified factories in China. Our Helpline team staff are trained to support workers and are briefed to address concerns related to COVID-19. The IETP Worker Helpline number is: 4001-583580
|Previous News/Announcements related to COVID-19|
For inquiries related to audit arrangement and certification expiration issues, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For inquiries related to wages and working hours for Chinese New Year Holiday and special work arrangements due to coronavirus control, please email email@example.com