FAQ on SA8000 Management Systems
FAQ on SA8000 Management Systems
Badri Gulur, SAI's Technical Director, is a long time Lead Trainer and Senior Accreditation Auditor for SA8000. Mr. Gulur is compiling a Management Systems report that provides clarification and delineation of acceptable processes for auditors in the areas of Management Review, Policy and Access for Verification. The discussion below responds to some questions frequently raised by auditors while assessing workplace compliance to the SA8000 Management Systems' requirements, with practical answers to improve the quality of auditor performance.
The first criterion of the SA8000 Standard's Management Systems is the Policy. According to the requirement, top management shall define in writing, in workers' own language, the company's policy for social accountability and labor conditions. It should display this policy and also the SA8000 Standard in a visible place in the company's premises, to inform personnel that it has voluntarily chosen to comply with the requirements of the SA8000 Standard.
Q: Should the policy and the SA 8000 Standard be displayed in a prominent easily viewable place on the company's premises?
A: Yes. It is important that SA 8000 is displayed in an easily viewable place. This provides a good opportunity for companies to make employees aware of the Standard. Many companies have used this displaying as a tool to creating a climate of belonging and encouraging workers participation on an ongoing basis.
Q: Why is the company required to consult the SA8000 Guidance Document for interpretative guidance with respect to this standard?
A: This helps it along the path of implementation, as a key means and mode to understand the elements of the SA 8000 Standard. It is beneficial for companies to consult the SA 8000 Guidance Document for interpretative guidance on the Standard requirements. This ensures that the company and the Certification Body have a common perspective on the interpretative guidance and reduces the misinterpretation of the SA 8000 clauses.
Another important criterion in Management Systems is Management Review, which states that top management shall periodically review the adequacy, suitability, and continuing effectiveness of the company's policy, procedures, and performance results vis-à-vis the requirements of SA8000 and other requirements to which the company subscribes. Where the review process finds it appropriate, system amendments and improvements shall be implemented. Finally, the worker representative shall participate in this review.
Q: What is the periodicity of the management review?
A: The frequency of the management review, for a social accountability management system to add incremental value, should be in sync with the surveillance audit schedule. Therefore, management review in SA 8000 should be conducted every 6 months.
Access for Verification:
This is a substantial criterion and applies to both announced and unannounced audits of the company for the purpose of certifying its compliance with the requirements of SA8000. The company shall ensure access to its premises and to reasonable information required by the auditor.
Q: In the case of unannounced audits, what if the company senior management and the management representative are not present in the company or either busy with other audits? Should they still provide access to its premises?
A: Yes. The company needs to provide reasonable access to the auditors to conduct the audit. If the senior management and the management representative are not present on the day of the unannounced audit, the company still has the responsibility to provide access to the auditors to conduct the audit. It is required that the auditors also look for reasonable information in terms of documents, records and interviewing staff who are available on the audit day.