The SIZA Audit Dispute procedure was implemented with the sole purpose of ensuring that producers can raise a concern in a safe space if they disagree with a specific finding. In line with SIZA’s support towards audits, this was implemented to ensure that auditors can use this procedure as a buffer so that they are not confronted with or coerced during an argument about a specific finding on the day of the audit. Audit Disputes give all involved in the audit process a fair opportunity to look deeper into the legal requirements and the application thereafter if a finding is queried.
How does this procedure work?
The SIZA Audit Dispute Procedure allows for a transparent review of the evidence provided during a formal dispute following a third-party audit. Disputes can only be raised by the supplier that has undergone a third-party audit and must be done online on the member’s profile on MySIZA to allow SIZA to initiate an independent review process. This process and the outcome thereof are visible on the MySIZA platform to ensure transparency.
SIZA cannot interfere with the third-party audit process, unless the dispute has been raised formally via the digital platform, after which SIZA merely facilitates the independent review process. SIZA manages the dispute procedure as follows:
- Once the producer logs the dispute via the MySIZA platform, SIZA creates an anonymous case study of the facts from the non-compliance raised, removing all references to the business name and audit team and only providing factual evidence. This case study, along with the evidence and reasoning provided by the auditee, is sent to the SIZA Audit Expert Group, an independent group of experts within the relevant field, i.e., labour lawyers, HR experts, social responsibility practitioners etc. The members of the Audit Expert Group separately review the case study and provide individual feedback to SIZA without being privy to others’ opinions. The Expert Group acts online, and members are not made aware of the other members in the group to ensure that they cannot liaise or influence each other regarding the specific topic to ensure that they all voice their own knowledgeable opinion. The procedure is facilitated by the SIZA office.
- SIZA collates/summarises the majority opinion and sends it to the audit firm for consideration on whether a finding or risk rating remains as it stands or should be amended or removed.
- The majority opinion will be recommended to the audit firms for their consideration and implementation.
- In cases when a change has been accepted and approved by the audit firm, the amendments are made; SIZA updates the audit status to “In Progress” to allow the auditor to make the amendments and send it for review again before approval.
- In previous cases where the Audit Expert Group did not reach a unanimous agreement, SIZA engaged on a legal level with outside counsel and the Department of Employment and Labour.
- The dispute raised, along with the outcome, is uploaded to the producers’ profile on the MySIZA Platform and communicated via email. An illustration of the procedure is publicly available on the website here: https://siza.co.za/audits-3/audit-process/