Fair trade seeks to promote the well-being and empowerment of farmers and workers in the Global South. This article traces the contested growth and configuration of Fairtrade International labour certification, providing a multifaceted and dynamic view of private regulation. I explain why Fairtrade International began certifying large enterprises and how its hired labour strategy has developed over time, illuminating fair trade’s move from peasant to plantation sectors, stakeholder involvement in shaping the growth of Fairtrade labour certification, the internal and external balancing of farmer and worker concerns, and major innovations in Fairtrade’s ‘New Workers Rights Strategy’. My findings challenge the claim that recent market mainstreaming explains the rise of labour certification within fair trade and the more general argument that private regulatory programmes founded to foster empowerment evolve over time to prioritise a logic of control. As I document, Fairtrade International has recently moved to bolster producer power within its organisation and labour rights within its certification programme. My analysis reveals the dynamic nature of private regulatory programmes and the potentially influential role of diverse stakeholders in shaping the priorities of Fairtrade and other labour-standards systems.