Working conditions in the garment industry are often bad. The worst examples are the so-called sweatshops which are still common, especially in developing countries. Sweatshop workers have few rights or ways to address their precarious situation. This can include exposure to harmful materials, hazardous situations, extreme temperatures, or abuse from employers.

They are often forced to work long hours for little or no pay, regardless of any laws stipulating overtime pay or a minimum wage. Child labour is a common occurrence in sweatshops. Cf. social risks of the cotton industry.

Pressure from consumer groups and a growing awareness of their corporate social responsibility has caused many companies to improve working conditions in textile processing and to comply with social standards such as SA 8000 and the ILO conventions.