Travel restrictions and the risk of COVID-19 infection have had a significant impact on social auditing: most audits have been postponed or cancelled. This is unfortunate, as it is exactly in times of crisis that worker’s rights are challenged the most. With the Sedex Virtual Assessment, we now have an alternative to the traditional on-site social audit. As an approved audit body, we are ready to execute Sedex Virtual Assessments across the globe.
The Sedex Virtual Assessment covers the same aspects as a SMETA-audit, and is designed as the alternative for situations in which it is not possible to execute an on-site audit. As an Affiliate Audit Company, DQS was heavily involved in the development process of the Sedex Virtual Assessment.
Who can use the Sedex Virtual Assessment?
A Sedex Virtual Assessment can be used for initial audits, periodic audits and follow-up audits. However, not all sites are eligible for a virtual assessment. When a site requests a virtual assessment, the audit company must evaluate whether the site meets the preconditions. These include, but are not limited to the following operational criteria:
- All areas of the site must be able to be visited, unless it is forbidden for mobile phones to enter parts of the site due to combustion issues or for sensitive commercial reasons.
- There is internet connectivity across all areas of the site.
- The site is running at sufficient capacity for the auditor to be able to gain a full picture of the site and the diversity of its workforce on the day.
Most importantly, the auditor needs to be able to speak with the workers. To have a Virtual Assessment, either group worker interviews or Direct Worker Reporting (or both) will be needed. If neither of these are possible, then the Sedex Virtual Assessment cannot happen.
The Assessment Process
Because the Sedex Virtual Assessment requires some preparation, it is always an announced assessment – never unannounced or semi-announced. During the preparation phase, the use of ICT technology is tested by the auditor and the site. There is also a document review that precedes the actual assessment. Further information about the process is available here.
How DQS can support
DQS CFS is one of the Sedex Affiliate Audit Companies. As a member of the Sedex Virtual Assessment Working Group, we have contributed to the development of the assessment method. With social auditors across the globe, we are ready to help you ensure social compliance throughout the supply chain and across all industry sectors.