Social Audit
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Social Audit

A social compliance audit, also known as an ethical audit, is an inspection of an external production house, factory, farm, or packaging facility to verify whether the operation complies with social and ethical responsibilities, health and safety regulations, and labor laws.

In order to ensure transparency, social compliance audits are usually performed by independent auditors that follow a set of international standards. These standards may vary depending on the location of the facility and the type of audit required.

International standards for social compliance audits include:

  • SA 8000 – the leading social certification standard for factories and organizations worldwide
  • Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit (SMETA)
  • amfori BSCI – a Business Social Compliance Initiative for social compliance and improvements within the factories and farms
  • ILO Ethical Trading Initiative
  • Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC)
  • Initiative for Compliance and Sustainability (ICS) – French Federation of Commerce and Distribution (FCD)

5 Key Procedures in a Social Compliance Audit

The audits may be scheduled ahead of time or conducted unannounced. The precise workflow of a social audit may differ depending on the standards used, but will always include the following key procedures:

  1. Opening Meeting
  2. Health & Safety Tour
  3. Employee Documentation Review
  4. Employee Interviews
  5. Closing Meeting

Health & Safety Tour Checklist

  • Sufficient space to move about and work in production areas
  • Adequate ventilation
  • Easily accessible emergency exits
  • Sanitation in cafeterias and restrooms
  • Access to potable water
  • Exposed or unmarked electrical wiring
  • Exposure to chemicals
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Emergency response plan
  • Fire suppression equipment and evacuation plans

Potential Health & Safety Issues

  • Lack of proper safety equipment
  • Exposed or unmarked electrical wiring
  • Chemicals that lack warning and information labels
  • Lack of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE)

Employee Documentation Checklist Examples

  • Employee attendance records
  • Payroll records over the previous 6 to 12 months
  • Employment contracts
  • Payroll records for peak/off-peak hours, including overtime payments and deductions
  • Daily start and stop times for workers
  • Social insurance payments
  • Production records (are workers paid by production or per piece?)
  • Any government waivers or special permissions for work hours outside of the standard legal limits

How S-QTS Can Help You?

S-QTS auditors are professionally certified to conduct social compliance audits according to major internationally recognized social audit standards.

Even if your company already has a social accountability program in place, S-QTS can tailor existing ethical audit programs to suit your specific needs for compliance.

Our ethical audit programs cover the following aspects:

  • Hygiene, health, and safety
  • Waste management
  • Child and young labor
  • Labor practices, including forced labor, worker representation, disciplinary practices and discrimination
  • Working hours and wages
  • Client-Specific Ethical Audit Protocols