Both the SIZA Social and Environmental Standards were developed in line with local legislation, however seeing that the SIZA primary members (South African suppliers) do business across country borders, the standards are measured against global requirements such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO) principles, European Union Green Deal, etc.
Although the minimum requirements for each code requirement remain based on South African legislation, it remains a control point and measure to determine risk within the business. In many cases, legislation only provides for the minimum interpretation. Yet, businesses operate in vastly different ways from one another, which results in the practicality of a specific legal rule not necessarily being applicable in the same way. Auditors are therefore trained to evaluate using a risk-based approach in all practices, as each practice and minimum legal requirement must be implemented.
For example, there are clear legal requirements on what should be included in an employment contract and that employees should receive a copy of their contract. Even if a business meets this requirement, it does not necessarily mean the contracts are updated between audit periods when changes occur, or that every employee understands the content of their contract. This results in a risk factor that must be reported during the audit if the business does not have any records to prove that it has mitigated the risk to the best of its ability.
It is also important to remember that sometimes legal interpretations differ or depend on specific business practices or reality. It is not always the same for businesses in different provinces or with particular business practices. Auditors are calibrated regularly through internal calibration training and regulatory body examinations on competency, set by the firm they audit for, APSCA, and SIZA every year. These examinations ensure that auditors understand the practicalities of agriculture in South Africa and how to interpret specific legal regulations. Although the SIZA Standards have not been changed significantly over the last ten years since audits were implemented, we are proud to say that the recognised auditors who audit on our behalf are much more knowledgeable and competent after years of training and calibration.
SIZA audits are not intended to be a harsh and unfair process; producers and auditors should use the process to understand their risks and drive improvement within the confines of the methodology. Auditors cannot act unethically and must report on all practices on the day of the audit. Producers can use any finding raised as an opportunity to review their practices and improve on them going forward. The audit is a way of evaluating possible risks in the business and, therefore, a valuable tool for a business to understand the risks better. The aim of the SIZA programme is to drive continuous improvement by showing the producers which risks are in a business, after which the expectation is that these areas of risk must be corrected before an Audit Completion Letter can be issued.
If you would like to access the applicable SIZA Standards, feel free to view them here:
- SIZA Environmental Standard: https://siza.co.za/wp-content/uploads/SIZA-Enviro-Standard-V1.2_Apr-2020.pdf
- SIZA Social Standard: https://siza.co.za/wp-content/uploads/SIZA_Social_Standard_February_2020_V6.0.pdf