BSCI Audit: The Ultimate FAQ Guide

If you have any question about BSCI audit, you will find the answer right here.

So, if you want to learn more about BSCI audit, read this guide.

What is BSCI Audit?

A Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) audit is a system that evaluates an organization’s adherence to the acceptable social practices in global supply chain.

It ensures good working environment for employees, ethical retail and supply chain practices in accordance to the BSCI code of conduct.

 BSCI Audit

 BSCI Audit

What is BSCI? Is it a Certificate, a Label or a Standard?

Business Social Compliance Initiative is a common procedure that companies use to carry out social audits.

It provides the auditing companies with methodology and reporting system to use in their exercise.

BSCI is not a certificate or accrediting system but a standard platform that links organizations to networks of external, experienced accredited companies.

What is the History of Social Responsibility?

In the 1990s a well-known company of footwear and apparel brand was accused of unethical practices in their production.

This prompted the company to draw up code of conduct for all its production facilities.

Other companies followed suit and also shared the policies with their supplier and vendors and was referred to as corporate social responsibility.

Auditing came into play in the 2000s with Foreign Trade Association (FTA) helping with free and sustainable trade through BSCI audit.

What are the Objectives of BSCI Audit?

BSCI audit is to ensure that your organization complies with the ethical business, environmental and economic standards.

Besides, it also help monitor and evaluate your suppliers and vendors if they adhere to social responsibility in their business.

Its objective is to:

  1. Help your organization avoid labor issues with vendor and suppliers.
  2. Helps the organization to avoid controversies that may hurt the business
  3. Standardize policies and procedures across business as per the global market trade.

Is BSCI Audit Mandatory?

No, it is not.

BSCI audit is a voluntary exercise whose members agree to comply with the BSCI Code of Conduct.

BSCI compliant members who are suppliers get preferential when it comes to getting tenders and purchase orders from clients.

BSCI Code of conduct

 BSCI code of conduct

Who Can Benefit from BSCI Audit?

The organization benefits from the BSCI audit in so many ways namely;

  • Having a BSCI audit certificate boost the level of consumer confidence in your products thus translating into sales.
  • BSCI audit holder are compliant to global market trade policies thus are able to do business with international partners easily.
  • It is easier for your organization to obtain SA8000 certification having successfully gone through BSCI audit.
  • Contented workers have higher quality output compared to mistreated employees thus your product quality will remain high.

 Certification

 Certification

What is the Difference Between SEDEX Audit and BSCI Audit?

SEDEX stands for Supplier Ethical Data Exchange audit while BSCI stands for Business Social Compliance Initiative audit.

BSCI audit uses the amfori code of conduct as its guiding system whereas SEDEX relies on the ETI or SMETA standards.

BSCI audit focuses on its participants their suppliers and vendors while SEDEX applies across the industry.

Holders of SEDEX audit do not necessarily need to go through the BSCI audit while BSCI participants need SEDEX audit.

Sedex

Sedex

BSCI Audit

BSCI Audit

Both BSCI and SEDEX audits emphasis on social responsibility of businesses.

BSCI audit is applicable in European Union for European Union customers while SEDEX is for European based participants and customers.

How do You Conduct a BSCI Audit?

BSCI audit is performed to monitor and evaluate the workplace environment with reference to the BSCI code of conduct.

For the sake of the BSCI audit process the workplace is normally categorized as either industrial or agricultural environment.

BSCI is conducted in six stages as follows:

Step 1: Application of the BSCI Audit

You will express interest in BSCI audit process by filling in your application through the BSCI audit firm platform.

The audit company will then vet your application before approving your application.

A notification will then be sent through to you informing you of the approval.

Step 2: Prepare for the Audit

Upon receipt of the approval notification, the next step is for you to prepare for the actual audit exercise.

The BSCI audit firm shall send a contract agreement with terms and conditions of the audit process.

Some of the conditions in the signed document include:

  • Granting access to the organization’s premises
  • Interviewing your employees without revealing their identity
  • Providing all the required documents for the audit process
  • Taking photographic evidence during the audit
  • Documenting the audit findings

The auditor will conduct a background survey by administering questionnaire on your employees.

This will help them plan for the audit and also request for the necessary documents ahead of time.

Step 3: Onsite BSCI Audit

BSCI audit process should be carried out systematically, impartially, uniformly and completely to avoid compromising the integrity of the BSCI results.

The auditing firm may choose to announce, semi-announce or not announce the day of the actual audit.

When they semi-announce, they only mention the window within which the audit will take place without mentioning the date.

During audit, the auditors are supposed to gather enough evidence that will inform their audit report.

The evidence are collected through triangulation method which includes; site and document verification and interview of a certain number of workers.

The evidence can be direct or indirect, where direct means, testimony or documents that support the existence or lack of existence of facts.

Indirect evidence is that which is concluded by the auditor but doesn’t directly point to the existence of a fact.

The start of an audit process is marked by an opening meeting with the relevant personnel of your organization.

Auditors use this meeting to explain the purpose, procedure and the goal of the exercise.

The organization also introduces the company at this point for the auditor to understand them better.

This is then followed by the sampling technique, document verification, interviews, evaluation, and finally closing meeting.

Step 4: Sharing the Audit Report

After the audit exercise is completed, auditors evaluate the evidences collected against the BSCI code of conduct before concluding.

Their conclusion should be without any biases and a draft prepared to be shared with the organization in the closing meeting.

The audit report will point out the deviations from the code of conduct with supporting evidence that informed the conclusion.

This report also has recommendations on areas of improvement and the timeline of making the necessary adjustments.

This report should be signed by the auditors and the organization.

The rating of the audit findings range from A to E, with the A being Outstanding and E being unacceptable.

In the closing meeting, the auditors give their audit findings to the same members who were present during the opening meeting.

The purpose of this meeting is to ensure that the audit results are understood and the deadline of implementations agreed upon.

Step 5: Follow up on Audit

During the closing meeting, auditors share areas that deviate from the principles of BSCI code of conduct and need adjustment.

They may in some instance suggest solution to such deviations and the timeline of correction.

Normally, the deadline of each section is within 12 months within which you should make all the necessary adjustments.

For some, such as health and safety of workers, the deadline is not negotiable and should be rectified soonest possible.

The BSCI audit is published on the BSCI platform for access to the public.

It is therefore important to make the changes and request for auditor verification and site update as soon as possible.

Step 6: Renewal of Audit

The validity of a BSCI audit is two years, after which you can request for another audit.

How long is a BSCI Audit Valid For?

A full BSCI audit is valid for two years only after which you can apply for renewal of the audit.

Re-audits can be done within 12 months, beyond that a full audit needs to be done.

What is amfori BSCI Code of Conduct?

Amfori BSCI Code of Conduct is a set of values and principles that guide its participants in ethical supply chain business.

Its objective is to pursue its partners, businesses and stakeholders to implement and follow socially responsible business.

The current Amfori BSCI Code of Conduct version 1/2014 was approved by the FTA on 1st January 2014. This led to overruling of the BSCI version 2009 Code of Conduct in all its translation.

It makes reference to internationally recognized legislations that are relevant to improving human working conditions in the supply chain business such;

  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
  • Children’s Rights and Business Principles,
  • Workplace Health Safety (WHS)
  • UN Global Compact and International Labor Organization (ILO) Conventions and Recommendations, etc.

Amfori BSCI Code of Conduct guide its participants by the following values:

  • Continuous improvement; BSCI participants endeavor to adopt a step-by-step approach in the implementation of the code of conducts.

This is to ensure they continually improve the working environment in their organization.

  • Cooperation; collaborating with other will ensure that BSCI code of conduct is implement across supply chain business.
  • Empowerment; amfori BSCI seeks to enlighten its participants on the need to develop a supply chain that respects human rights.

What are the Principles of BSCI Code of Conduct?

The principles of BSCI code of conduct are the prescribed ways that BSCI participant organizations should strive to follow.

Fair Wages

Employee are entitled to minimum wages as stipulated by the government or industry standard as per collective bargain, whichever is higher.

The remuneration should afford the workers decent living for their families.

Wages should be paid fully and on time depending on the level of skills and working hours.

Freedom of Association and Collection Bargain

Your employees should be free to join or form a union group at workplace to enable them discuss their issues.

They should also be free to elect their representatives to enter a dialogue on their behalf and have a collective bargain.

Prohibit Child Labor

You must ensure that no child is employed in your organization as stipulated in the international labor laws.

This can be done by putting in place respectful age-verification measures during recruitment process.

Occupational Health and Safety

Your workplace should adhere to the Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) policy to protect your workers from work-related injuries and illness.

This shall include adjacent communities that may be exposed to harmful emissions for your business.

You must provide free personal protective equipment (PPE) to all your workers and strive to minimize health hazards at workplace.

Systems and measures to detect, avoid and prevent such occurrence must be in place to ensure safety of your employees.

No Discrimination

You should abolish preferential treatment or exclusion towards your employees on the basis of their race, gender, sexuality, marital status, disabilities.

This also include abolishment of harassment or discipline based on the same.

Fair Working Hours

As an organization, the maximum working hours for your employees should be 48 hours per week.

Beyond the set 48 hours employee should be paid overtime and workplace exposure limit (WEL) be observed.

Your employees are entitled to at least one day off per seven days unless collectively agreed upon by both parties.

No Forced Labor

You should not coerce your employee into any form of involuntary work.

All employees should be allowed to terminate their employment at any given time provided they give ample notice to the employer.

Protection of the Environment

The organization should have proper waste disposal measures and policies that will not harm the environment, natural resources and the community.

Ethical business Practices

Your organization should engage in ethical business practices throughout its operations from employee training, procurement and distribution.

You should avoid engaging in corruption of any kind, fund misappropriation, falsifying information among other malpractices.

Special Protection for Young Workers

When you have young employees, ensure their health and safety is protected while at work.

They should also be allowed flexible working hours to enable them attend school or vocational trainings.

No Precarious Employment

All new employees should be provided with a written contract that clearly state the labor laws, terms of employment, payment, etc.

This is to ensure that the employees are protected against employment insecurities, vulnerability, exploitation, etc.

What are the Zero Tolerance Issues According to BSCI Code of Conduct?

 BSCI Audit

BSCI

The BSCI code of conduct forbid the following issues:

  • Deliberate Human rights violation
  • Unethical behavior that flaunts the integrity of BSCI audit
  • Child labor applies to all workers below the legal minimum age in that particular country e.g. 15 years.

It also applies to the type of labor young workers are subjected to, such as prostitution, pornography, etc.

  • Inhumane treatment of workers such as not allowing them to quit the employment at their will, corporal punishment, overworking, verbal abuse, etc.
  • Occupational Health and Safety, exposure of employees to health hazards at workplace, not providing proper working gear hence compromising their wellbeing.
  • Immoral behavior includes, bribing auditors and refusing to provide accurate data in your procurement exercise.

The above issue must be proven and factual and they must be evident at the time of audit.

What is the Difference between BSCI Audit and SA8000 Audit?

  • BSCI audit is an initiative of the FTA to survey ethical sourcing for European businesses while SA8000 is for the USA.
  • BSCI audit was founded in the year 2003 by FTA while SA8000 was formed in 1997 by Social Accountability International (SAI).
  • BSCI audit is guided by the local labor laws, ILO as well as SA8000 as its best practice.

SA8000 audit on the other hand applies the ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 standards besides the ILO.

  • BSCI audit focuses on implementation and qualification of suppliers while SA8000 is a management system that certifies the participants.
  • Holders of the SA8000 do not need BSCI audit whereas BSCI compliant participants need SAI training to qualify for SA8000 certification.
  • BSCI audit is valid for 2 years while for SA8000 is 3 years before renewal.
  • BSCI focuses on the “legal minimum” whereas SA8000 emphasize on the “right of supply”.
  • Both audits push for ethical business behavior in the supply chain.

Who Performs a BSCI Audit?

BSCI audit is conducted exclusively by Social Accountability Accreditation Service (SAAS) accredited auditing companies whose social auditors are highly qualified.

What are BSCI Audit Requirements?

Before conducting a BSCI audit you need the following:

  • Qualified auditor
  • Site inspection
  • Signed declaration of consent
  • Availability of required documents
  • Organization representatives
  • BSCI checklist

What is the BSCI Audit Rating System?

BSCI audit scores your organization after the process is completed as follows:

A-Outstanding performance needs to maintain the same and no need for a follow-up audit.

B-Good results does not need follow-up audit needs to maintain the same progress.

C-Acceptable results needs follow up audit to support its progress and a remediation plan within 60 days.

D-Insufficient results, the company needs follow up audit to support its progress and a remediation plan within 60 days.

E-Unacceptable performance means the organization needs close monitoring in its improvement progress and a follow-up audit.

Zero Tolerance rating, company needs immediate action on the non-compliant issues.

How Much Does a BSCI Audit Cost?

The cost of BSCI audit varies depending on the accreditation level of the auditing company and the size of organization.

The average cost of BSCI audit is USD 650 per factory.

The higher the level of accreditation and the more the factories or farms to be audited the costlier it is.

What Happens After a BSCI Audit?

The auditors present the company with the results of the audit as the absolute truth of their findings.

The report is then signed by both auditor and the company representative.

A copy left with the company and another one with the auditing firm.

The producer may have follow up audit to rectify non-compliant issues or wait for 3 years before the next audit.

Others may apply for the SA8000 certification after having a successful BSCI audit process.

What are the Recommended Action Plans for Social Compliance Violations?

Recommended Action Plans are the suggestions that an auditor gives the organizations to rectify for them to be compliant.

It is important that the recommendations be clear for the organization to interpret and implement.

For instance, the auditor will describe the violated item found such as child labor, mental abuse or poor remuneration.

This will then have attached documentation as evidence and the clause violated quoted.

As a recommendation, the auditor will indicate the changes to be implemented and give a deadline too.

What are Some Issues that May Arise During BSCI Audit?

  • Attempt by the organization to bribe the auditors.
  • Lack of cooperation from the organization’s management or workers.
  • Threats of conflict of interest

What is a BSCI Audit Checklist?

A BSCI audit is a catalogue used by auditors to evaluate an organization’s compliance to social and ethical policies during auditing.

The BSCI checklist comprises of:

 BSCI Audit check List

BSCI Audit Check List

It guides the auditors in the following aspects:

  • Verification of documents needed for auditing process
  • Evaluation of the company against the BSCI code of conduct and identifying non-compliant areas
  • Assigning of corrective actions that the organization should adjust immediately to be compliant
  • Record the audit process and offer recommendations
  • Sign off the report digitally to validate the audit process.

How Do you Prepare for BSCI Audit?

Before undergoing the BSCI audit, you can prepare your organization beforehand by following the below steps:

Familiarize with the BSCI Code of Conduct

Going through the BSCI code of conduct helps your organization to acquaint itself with the values and principles of the BSCI.

Have an Internal Audit

Conducting and internal prepares the organization for the actual BSCI audit beforehand.

It help your organization identify areas of non-compliance and improve on them immediately.

Use the BSCI Checklist

During the actual BSCI audit, the auditors use the BSCI audit checklist to evaluate the organization’s compliance to BSCI principles.

You can use that during internal audit as a way of self-assessment.

Which Documents are Needed During a BSCI Audit?

The list of documents required during the BSCI audit and which are attached to the audit report include:

  • Organization’s organogram to help auditors understand the company’s departmental heads, functions and processes.
  • Workers’ payroll and wages records to establish remuneration patterns
  • Time records to enable the auditor calculate working hours
  • Copy of Employer’s contract and code of conduct
  • Self-assessment questionnaires

The list of documents is found on “Producer Profile” section on the BSCI platform to enable the organization prepare them beforehand.

In case the list is unavailable, the auditor can share with them together with a “Declaration of Consent” form.

These documents serve as evidence which help inform the auditor’s final decision.

They should however, not include documents that may expose the organization’s techniques which may be used by competitors.

How Long Does BSCI Audit Take?

The length of BSCI audit varies between 1.5 to 4.5 days depending on the scope of audit and the facility size.

The facility size refers to the number of workers while the scope is the functions and processes to be audited.

What is BSCI Audit Report?

A BSCI audit report is the findings of an audit exercise based on satisfactory evidence, auditor’s knowledge and judgment.

The report is available both in hard copy (offline) and as softcopy online on the BSCI platform.

BSCI audit report is available in different modules depending on the methodology used and scope of audit.

A typical BSCI audit report comprises of the following modules:

a) Declaration of Consent: This is the agreement between the organization and the BSCI auditor that allows the auditors to conduct audit.

Without a signed declaration of consent, BSCI audit cannot be performed.

b) Confidentiality Disclaimer.

c) Cover page: Has the basic information about the organization and the outcome of the audit process

d) Master Data A: Has the general information pertaining the producer profile, BSCI auditors, the audit process and outcome, outsourced structure, etc.

e) Part B tier I: This section bears the same pattern regardless of the methodology used across industrial environment.

The questions are formulated in a way that the outcome is either “positive” (+) or “negative” (-).

This section also has crucial questions which relate to ILO and may compromise worker’s health and safety or BSCI audit process.

f) CAP B: This is a summary of the Part B tier I findings.

g) Workers Interview Sheet: Includes the number of workers’ interviewed and method used but without indicating their names for confidentiality purposes.

h) Child and young workers’ sheet: Where applicable, this is used to document the children and young workers found at the auditee’s main site.

i) Attached Documents: Is the list of documents provided during the BSCI audit as well as photographic evidence gathered in the process.

They form the basis of the auditor’s conclusion of the audit exercise.

Documents or photographs that may expose the organization’s operational techniques to competitors are not attached.

Can BSCI Audit Report be Revised?

Yes, they can.

BSCI audit report is issued by auditors after an audit process and the results submitted to the BSCI platform.

Where there is need to make changes due to errors or inaccuracies of data, the auditor can review it upon request.

Special changes such as change of producer address, company’s legal entity, auditor’s name, audit date, etc.

May lead to audit revision. This can be done only after unlocking the report by the firm.

Are BSCI Audit Reports Public?

Yes.

The BSCI audit report are published on the BSCI audit platform ten days post the audit exercise.

This information can therefore be accessed by supplier and consumers at any time within a period of at least six years.

What is RSP in BSCI Audit?

A responsibility Holder (RSP) is a BSCI participant who initiates and follows up on the BSCI audit of a producer.

Why Should Aim to Work with BSCI Audited Suppliers?

Working with BSCI audited suppliers has several pros to it including:

  • BSCI audited suppliers are compliant with the social, ethical, environmental and economic procedures hence it boost consumer trust in your products.
  • Your company is not subjected to government checks over suspicion of shoddy dealings.
  • Working with BSCI audited suppliers raises your organization’s reputation
  • It fosters good working relationship between your company and your supplier due to the common belief in social responsibility.

What is a BSCI Certificate?

 BSCI Certification

 BSCI Certification

BSCI certificate is a document issue to the organization after successful completion of the BSCI audit process.

It is sectioned into; top section, producer profile, audit details and audit results for the modules and bears the following information:

Top Section

  • Name of the Producer (Organization)
  • Date of Audit
  • Audit type
  • Audit methodology
  • Module of audit

Producer Profile

  • Name of Producer
  • DBID No.
  • Audit ID
  • Address
  • Management Representative
  • Contact person
  • Sector
  • Product Group

Audit Details

  • Type of audit
  • Sub type audit
  • Audit date
  • Audit methodology
  • Auditing Company
  • Auditing company address
  • Lead Audit Name and SA8000 No.

Audit results for Part B tier I

  • Total score in part B tier I
  • Total number of deviation in crucial questions
  • Agreed date of closing corrective action plan
  • Contingency to be reported

Audit results for Part B tier II

How Can you Verify the Validity/Authentic of Your Supplier’s BSCI Certificate?

This can be done through an online search of the BSCI certificate on the platform of the auditing company.

The validity of the BSCI certificate is two years from the date of auditing, this can be verified by the dates.

Can you Streamline BSCI Audit? How?

Yes.

BSCI audit can be streamlined by use of online BSCI platform or by use of mobile enabled BSCI applications.

Streamlined BSCI audit can be filled in real time and save on time used for pen and paper audit process.

Streamlined BSCI audit makes it possible to perform the following:

  • Schedule the BSCI audit process with organization to ensure continuity and surveillance of the compliance.
  • Ensure BSCI audit is performed and uploaded anytime and anywhere on your mobile device even when offline.

The information automatically uploads and is stored in the cloud once you connect to the internet.

  • It is possible to assign corrective actions immediately they are performed.
  • The data collected is safely stored in the cloud compared to paper storage that can be misplaced.
  • The BSCI audit report is generated upon completion of the exercise and shared with the audited company in real time.

What are the Qualities of a Good BSCI Auditor?

A BSCI auditor should be SA8000 certified after successfully going through the Social Accountability Initiative (SAI) course.

This knowledge helps them to conduct the audit and also make objective judgment of their findings.

Other qualifications for a good BSCI auditor include:

  1. Professional experience in social auditing, quality control and health and safety control
  2. Background knowledge or experience in the business of the producer such as industrial manufacturing or agricultural production.
  3. Knowledge of the national and ILO labor legislations
  4. BSCI related trainings and education
  5. Fluent in language spoken by workers of the producer organization.

When the auditor feels they might not give unbiased opinion due to conflict of interest, they should recuse from the process.

Why Choose BSCI Audit Services from Sourcing Wise?

SourcingWise provides a variety of auditing services and programs by qualified auditors.

The company has an understanding of different industries and can easily carry out BSCI audit in an industrial or agricultural environment.

They understand different countries regulations with regards to social responsibility hence can perform SA8000 or BSCI audit as per your instructions.

At SourcingWise, we can help you with all compliance issues when importing from China.

Contact us today and we will help you conduct BSCI audit in China.

Scroll to Top