APSCA is the professional body for the social compliance industry and is standard agnostic. While there are other organizations, APSCA is the only one that crosses all types of social compliance audits and is not tied to a specific audit program.

A Social Compliance Audit is:

A means of evaluating, measuring, understanding, and reporting an organization’s social and ethical performance.

A social compliance audit requires consideration of each of the sections in the APSCA Competency Framework with the capture and evaluation of sufficient evidential matter to assess performance relative to each section by an APSCA Certified Social Compliance Auditor (“CSCA”). Competent capture of sufficient evidential matter includes at a minimum:

  • Observations of conditions in the facility, which include the work area and any other relevant areas,
  • Management interviews,
  • Worker interviews (Workers include direct employees, contractors, temporary workers and all other persons on site); and
  • Triangulation of all information.

CSCA and Member Firms have the responsibility to ensure that appropriate time is spent on site to competently achieve these tasks.  Appropriate time is a function of many factors, including but not limited to the number of workers and physical size of the facility.  Industry standard practice indicates that effective consideration would generally require a minimum of one auditor day on site for small facilities (e.g. less than 100 workers), whereas for larger facilities with more workers, two or more auditor days will be required, incrementally, based on the number of workers and the physical size of the facility.

Audit Support

How do I schedule an APSCA Audit?

APSCA is not an audit standard and we do not schedule audits.  APSCA is a membership organization where audit firms and auditors are members.  If you require an audit where using an APSCA Member Firm and Auditor is a requirement, contact one of our Member Firms noted here: Member Firms  

What is an Auditor’s APSCA Membership Number and how should it be used?

The APSCA Membership Number is a unique identification number that is assigned to every Auditor who has fully enrolled with APSCA via a Member Audit Firm. The number is specific to the individual Auditor and will never be re-assigned to another person. The Auditor’s Membership Number is unique to the Auditor and may only be used when conducting an audit on behalf of an APSCA Member Firm. This Membership Number remains with the Auditor throughout their career. For additional guidance, see our APSCA Use of Auditor Number.

Do Collaborative Programs only use APSCA Member Firms/ APSCA Member Auditors?

We are starting to see collaborative programs move in this direction.  At a minimum many are providing space on the audit report for APSCA Member Numbers (Firm and Auditor) to be included.

I’ve been asked to use an APSCA Member Firm/APSCA Member Auditor to conduct our social compliance audit – where can I find a list of Member Firms and Auditors?

See Our Members for a complete list of APSCA Member Firms.

I want our Audit Firms to be APSCA Member Firms and only use APSCA enrolled Auditors to conduct our social compliance audits – what is the correct way to communicate this?

For sample wording see the Support APSCA page of our website:  Support APSCA

Can an ASCA Auditor conduct a Social Compliance Audit on their own if the Client does not require APSCA Auditors? 

No, all enrolled Auditors with APSCA have signed the APSCA Code and Standards of Professional Conduct  (Code) which prohibits an ASCA Auditor from conducting a Social Compliance Audit on their own without the support in person from a RA/ CSCA Auditor.  To do so, will mean the ASCA is in violation of the Code and will see them presented to the Disciplinary Board with potential sanctions, not limited to suspension/ revocation of their APSCA Membership.

Please note that an APSCA Member Auditor can only use their member number on an audit report when conducting an audit on behalf of an APSCA Member Firm (Auditor must be at the correct audit level to conduct audit).  A Member Auditor cannot use their member number if they are conducting an audit for a firm that is NOT an APSCA Member Firm (regardless of what auditor level they may be).  Please reference APSCA Code and Standards of Professional Conduct.

 

What is APSCA’s position on virtual/remote social compliance audits or assessments? 

APSCA does not consider virtual/remote assessments/audits as a full social compliance audit. As such, an Auditor cannot put their APSCA member number on any virtual/ remote assessment report as it is not considered a full social compliance audit as per APSCA’s definition (as per the APSCA Glossary of Terms).


Can an APSCA Member Auditor use their APSCA member number on an Audit Report that only has one element of Social Compliance?

No, please read APSCA Use of Auditor Number and APSCA Code and Standards of Professional Conduct. APSCA Member Auditor Numbers can only be included when the Auditor conducts a full Social Compliance Audit (as defined in APSCA Glossary of Terms ) on behalf of an APSCA Member Firm.

General

How did APSCA develop the Competency Framework for Auditors?

APSCA developed the Competency Framework, with the support of Working and Consultation Groups as well as public comment.  The Competency Framework identifies the areas and skillsets expected of a social compliance auditor and the level of proficiency to which APSCA Member Auditors are being tested via a 3-part exam.   If you require further information, please contact:  director@theapsca.org.

There may be elements which collaborative and client programs have included in their audit expectations, however APSCA have determined that these areas require specialist skills and are not areas that APSCA are certifying auditors to.  These areas include, but are not limited to, structural integrity which requires a qualified structural engineer, electrical safety which requires a qualified electrician and land rights, to name a few.

APSCA recommends where these areas are included in audit expectations, the audit requestor or program owner, validates the presence of these competencies within auditors that are approved for their programs

It is also a requirement of the Member Auditors to include a disclaimer to the audit report, which can be found under 4.1.3.2 of the APSCA Code and Standards of Professional Conduct.

Why does APSCA partner with a third-party proctoring group/service like ProctorU to conduct exams? 

Hear from APSCA’s CEO the value and integrity that ProctorU’s remote proctoring of CSCA exams provides our Members and organization. 

CLICK HERE to view video. 

Does APSCA comply with GDPR?

APSCA has and continues to work closely with applicable experts to ensure all elements of APSCA’s activities, including the enrolment and maintenance of Auditor information as well as the execution of the CSCA exams comply with all GDPR requirements.

For more information please see APSCA Privacy Policy or email us director@theapsca.org.

Does ProctorU comply with GDPR?

Please see the ProctorU GDPR Information Sheet below:

Audit Firms

How does an audit firm join APSCA?

  1. Audit Firm Applicants submit a signed and completed Membership Application form with supporting documents. Applications are available for download, here.
  2. Applicant submits payment of a non-refundable application fee (see: Schedule of Fees).

For a complete overview of the membership application process and fees, visit our website here:  Become a Member. Download documents which will guide you through the process.

How long does the Member Firm application process take?

Approximately 3-6+ * months

*Depending on delays due to incomplete documentation/ information or late payments from the applicant, delayed or no responses from “references” – all of which can impact review and approval timelines.

Can I submit my documentation in local language?

We need to receive the application and all supporting documentation in English.

Are there different types of Audit Firm membership?

No, there is one type of membership, however we do divide our Members into three (3) categories depending on the number of fully enrolled, CSCA / Registered Level (RA) social compliance Auditors employed by the Member Firm.

Audit Firm Member Categories:

  • (Category A) more than 200 employed CSCA/ Registered Level (RA) social compliance auditors
  • (Category B) between 50 and 200 employed CSCA/ Registered Level (RA) social compliance auditors
  • (Category C) between 1 and 50 employed CSCA/ Registered Level (RA) social compliance auditors

Is APSCA open to smaller firms?

Membership is open to all size firms who are conducting independent Social Compliance audits. All applications will be processed fairly, equally, and confidentially.

Our Audit Firm is an APSCA Member, can we note this on our website, LinkedIn (or other social media) profile?

Yes, you can indicate that you are an APSCA Member Firm and provide a link to APSCA’s website if you like.  We request that specific APSCA Member numbers are not noted.

If after review of the APSCA Code and Standards of Professional Conduct you are still unsure if you are in compliance with approved use or promotion of your membership with APSCA, please contact director@theapsca.org and a Member of the APSCA Team will confirm. 

Our audit firm uses subcontracted auditors from another non-Member firm. Can we enroll these auditors through our membership?   

APSCA does not recognize non-Member organizations/ firms, because any APSCA Member Auditor linked/ associated to and/ or conducting audits on behalf of an APSCA Member Firm is the responsibility of that Member Firm, as per APSCA Code and Standards of Professional Conduct .

Please see our Guidance document here:  Use of Subcontractor and Partner Organizations Guidance

APSCA recognizes that many of our Members use Subcontractor/ Freelance Auditors.  As per APSCA Code and Standards of Professional Conduct (Code), the word “Auditors” refer to any individual who conducts social compliance services including an employed, freelance, or subcontract Auditor. 

  • Within the Code, Page 1 states:

By becoming a Member of APSCA, both Auditors and audit Firms are committing to uphold the principles outlined in the Code and the related Standards in the conduct of all social compliance services.  It is also intended that Member Firms will ensure that the provisions of the Code will be followed by all personnel working on their social compliance services.

  • The Code goes on to state, on Page 6:

Each audit team shall have a minimum of one RA/CSCA.  Audit Teams may include ASCA(s) who support the audit under supervision of the RA/CSCA.

Does a Member Firm’s membership with APSCA extend or apply to affiliate or partner firms of that APSCA Member Firm? 

No. Membership applies only to a firm who has applied and demonstrated they meet APSCA’s requirements and definition of a Member Firm. A current Member of APSCA is defined as having paid the annual membership fees and completed the required tasks identified by APSCA. Only a Member Firm can claim APSCA Membership OR use the APSCA Logo.

Any reference to/misrepresentation of membership with APSCA or use of the APSCA logo by a non-Member are prohibited.

Auditors

How can an auditor enroll with APSCA?

Auditor Membership is open to auditors who are associated with at least one of our APSCA Member Firms, in either an employed or subcontract/freelance capacity.  Our Member Firms are independent third-party audit firms who conduct social compliance audits.
To view a complete list of Member Firms:  APSCA Member Firms  

If an auditor is already working for a Member Firm, contact that Firm directly regarding the APSCA auditor enrollment process.  Each Firm has a process for enrolling and managing payments for their auditors joining APSCA.

APSCA is looking to expand membership in the future, but at this time we are only accepting external/ third party auditors working on behalf of an APSCA Member Firm.

Can internal auditors enroll in APSCA?

APSCA accepts independent 3rd party social compliance audit firms and their auditors.  APSCA intend to look at expanding membership in the near future.

What information is required of an auditor enrolling in APSCA?

Auditors enrolling through their Member Firm will provide APSCA with information on their social compliance audit experience (via audit log), education, skills, and accreditations, a signed APSCA Code and Standards of Professional Conduct, and provide a professional image which will be displayed on APSCA’s website here:  Member Auditors.  These details are assessed against APSCA Competency Framework for Auditors to determine both an Auditor’s APSCA level and their eligibility to sit the CSCA Auditor examination for Certification.

How do auditors become certified through APSCA?

After enrolling with APSCA, Auditors are to provide information such as their social compliance audit experience, education, skills and any accreditations as well as providing consent for APSCA to maintain this information and sign the APSCA Code and Standards of Professional Conduct.   The Member Firm will confirm to APSCA that the Auditor is ready to sit for each part of the CSCA exam. An overview of the CSCA exam elements is outlined in APSCA Competency Framework and the Auditor Handbook.

How can I confirm the credentials of an APSCA Auditor? 

See here: Member Auditors – you will need the Auditor’s Member Number and surname.

I am an APSCA Member Auditor, can I note this on my LinkedIn (or other social media) profile?

Yes, you can indicate that you are an APSCA Member Auditor and note your Level (e.g. CSCA, RA, ASCA), however we strongly encourage you to NOT publicly post your APSCA Membership Number. 

If after review of the APSCA Code and Standards of Professional Conduct you are still unsure if you are in compliance with approved use or promotion of your membership with APSCA, please contact director@theapsca.org and a member of the APSCA Team will confirm. 

APSCA

If APSCA is run by an Executive Board mainly comprised of Member audit firms, what is in place to ensure it is independent from audit firm business interests?

APSCA has a strong governance structure. The Executive Board (EB) is made up of Member Firms and representatives from the Stakeholder Board (SB) as well as APSCA’s independent President & CEO.  The application process to have a seat on the EB is open to Members prior to the AGM, with each seat coming up for renewal on a rotating 2-year basis.  The EB is chaired by an independent person nominated by the SB and approved at the Annual General Meeting of Members.

The SB has up to 12 members and its purpose is to support and guide the EB. There are three seats reserved for SB representatives on the EB, one of which is the Chair. 

Further, APSCA is governed by ByLaws which are reviewed on an annual basis and available to all Member Firms through APSCA’s Member Firm Login page.

How is APSCA’s budget or finances managed?

APSCA’s Executive Board also includes subcommittees which include a Finance Committee which is responsible for oversight of APSCA’s budget. APSCA has been running as an organization since 2015 and is still running but managed like a start-up – keeping overhead low with a high level of oversight on spending.

There are many organizations which are developing or have developed a standard audit protocol. How does this fit into the work being done by APSCA?

There are numerous collaborative programs whose efforts and existing work was used by the different working groups as APSCA was developing their policies, processes, including the APSCA Competency Framework.  APSCA’s objective was not to develop a new approach or tool for assessment. APSCA ‘s objective is to enhance the professionalism of social compliance auditors by developing a certification process to ensure auditors have the required competencies which are standard requirements in comparable professional organizations.

Ethics

Can APSCA receive and process queries and allegations about the conduct of a Member when they are carrying out a collaborative program or client social compliance audit?

APSCA’s Ethics & Integrity program receive queries/ allegations about the conduct of our Members when it relates to the APSCA Code and Standards of Professional Conduct .  Complaints about quality or execution of a specific program should be shared with the owner of the program.

How does APSCA manage reported allegations of Member Firm or Member Auditor(s)?

When APSCA receives a complaint, we review for legitimacy of the issue which may include an investigation.  Following this information APSCA will contact the Member Auditor/ Firm to obtain their response to the allegations alerting them to what element of the APSCA Code and Standards of Professional Conduct they may be in violation of and obtain their feedback.

For more detail on how credible complaints are handled please see here: APSCA Disciplinary Framework and Procedures

Who makes up APSCA’s Disciplinary Board (DB)?

APSCA has two DB– one for Member Firms and one for Member Auditors:

  • Our Member Firm DB has 4 independent members all who know and understand social compliance but are not associated with a Member Firm, Brand, Retailer or Collaborative program.
  • Our DB for Member Auditors has 5 members – 2 from Member Firms, 1 nominated by the Stakeholder Board, 1 independent member, and is chaired by an independent person who prior to retirement ran the global Compliance Team for a Fortune 100 organization.

All Member Auditors and Firms brought before the DB are done so anonymously, neither the Member Firm nor Member Auditor’s name is disclosed. If a member of the DB for Member Auditors may have knowledge of the individual or event being brought before, that DB Member is recused from the meeting and not present for the discussion.

How are Members held accountable for reporting violations/ misconduct?

As per 2.3 and 5.3 of APSCA Code and Standards of Professional Conduct  (Code), 2.3 states All Members shall have a system in place to identify risks and manage compliance relating to ethics and integrity and 5.3 states: Any Members who believes that another Member has committed a violation of the Code must inform APSCA.

Further, Page 1 of the Code states: Member Firms are independent businesses; however, the actions of Members can be attributed to APSCA, affecting the reputation and level of trust APSCA has earned as well as impacting the reputation of the industry as a whole. Members are expected to conduct themselves with consideration of this reality.

How does APSCA assess reported allegations?

While we know not everyone will agree with every decision made by the DB, it is expected that the DB will do so with independence and based on fact. APSCA will act only on fact-based information and in all cases, the person who is being brought before the DB will be given the opportunity to respond to the allegations.

Exams

How do auditors enroll to sit each part of the CSCA exam?

APSCA’s CSCA examination is open to eligible Member Auditors who have demonstrated their experience in alignment with the APSCA Competency Framework  as well as their audit log having been signed off by the Member Auditor and the APSCA Member Firm.

Auditors who are confirmed eligible to sit for an exam will be notified by their Member Firm after liaising with APSCA and will receive a copy of the Auditor Handbook to support their preparation. Once approved, Auditors can schedule and sit for each exam. Exam eligibility is currently assessed against a signed audit log and requirements as outlined in APSCA Competency Framework. These details determine both an Auditor’s APSCA level and their eligibility to sit the Auditor examination for Certification.

What are CSCA Exam deadlines/due dates for Member Auditors? 

Exam deadlines/due dates are posted on APSCA’s website here:  APSCA Exam Deadlines (note Key Dates section).

Auditors unsure about exam deadlines/due dates that apply to them, please contact APSCA via exam@theapsca.org.

Does APSCA offer training prior to Member Auditors sitting the exam?

No.  Training is the responsibility of the APSCA Member Firm.  APSCA does provide the APSCA Competency Framework as well as an Auditor Handbook to support the Audit Firm and individual Auditor in their preparation.  Please also see our Resource Library for Exam Guides, Practice Exams and webinars.

Are beverages (tea or water) permitted during exams? 

Yes –a beverage is permitted for test takers to have on-hand during their exam, but they must have this available prior to the start of the exam.  Auditors are not permitted to leave the room during the exam without approval from the Proctor. 

What happens to an Auditor’s level if they do not pass a CSCA exam (Part I, II, or III)? 

If an Auditor is at the RA level and they FAIL an exam, their level will be moved to ASCA, until such time as they sit and pass that exam. Changes in Auditor Level as a result of sitting the exam, occurs on the day exam results are issued.  If an Auditor takes the exam and they are Pathway 4 they remain as ASCA until they pass all 3 parts of the exam at which time they will be then assigned the CSCA Auditor level.

What languages does APSCA offer to sit the exam?

The APSCA CSCA exams can now be taken in all languages.

What qualification/ experience do the Part III interviewers have?

Each Part III interviewer has a minimum of 12 years of social compliance experience.  He/she may have worked as: an auditor and/or trainer, for social compliance auditing firms, multinational brand, government entity, and/or operated as an independent consultant. They have extensive experience in both program development and training, and have worked with auditors, audit firms, factories, and vendors/ suppliers on different aspects of supply chain monitoring. They are highly skilled at envisioning and implementing programs and services that support CSR objectives. Your interviewer may specialize in any or all of the following: social compliance auditing, human rights and related topics such as underage, migrant, and forced labor, data analysis, and mentoring junior auditors.

All interviewers are fluent in English, plus at least one additional language which includes any of the following:

Simplified / Traditional Chinese, Hindi, Urdu, Spanish, or Turkish.

All are deeply committed to a more equitable and sustainable working environment, where ethics, the rule of law, and a value for human rights influence business decisions while also considering the impact to workers.

How does the alternate language exam work and will we receive extra time?

The Alternate language exam is where the questions appear in English and the Auditor can use technology and right click translate which translates the full web page. The translation is offered via your web browser. We suggest each Auditor practices this before the exam. You may already be using this feature within Google Chrome or another browser. To move back and forth if you wish to see English again you refresh your browser. The system saves every minute so you will not lose your work. Please consult the Auditor Handbook for more information.

Auditors have 2 hours to sit Part I or Part II exams.

Will all languages be available with the new translate feature?

Yes. Right Click Translate in Google Chrome is available in 104 languages. Please see the Auditor Handbook for the list of languages available.  We strongly encourage you practice this via the Practice Exam.  Ensure you notify APSCA prior to attempting to sit the exam if your language is not covered.

Membership Fees

Where can I find information about Auditor and\or Firm Membership Fees?

All APSCA Membership Fees are on the Schedule of Fees

What is the membership term?

Membership is PER calendar year (Jan.-Dec.), regardless of what time during the year you join.  Invoices are raised in January each year.

My Membership status is listed as “Lapsed” – who do I contact? 

Please contact director@theapsca.org or dataadministrator@theapsca.org for questions on your status.

I’m a freelance/sub-contractor auditor working for multiple APSCA Member Firms, do I need a separate account / number for every Member Firm or can I be linked to each Firm and maintain just one number?

Each Member Auditor ONLY has one account, one APSCA Member Number and can be associated with numerous Member Firms at the same time.  APSCA will seek authorization from both the Member Firm(s) and Member Auditor before either will be linked together.  Contact us via director@theapsca.org or dataadministrator@theapsca.org for additional assistance.

I’ve forgotten my password/log-in details or can’t access my APSCA account – who do I contact?

Email our Data Administrator at dataadministrator@theapsca.org

I’d like to update my Auditor account details – who do I contact?

Email our Data Administrator at  dataadministrator@theapsca.org

I enrolled, but haven’t been issued my APSCA Membership Number – who do I contact?

APSCA does not email APSCA Membership Numbers. An Auditor’s APSCA Membership Number will be assigned to the Auditor’s account upon completion of all required information and membership fees being paid. If you do not see a number posted to your account, please contact us at  dataadministrator@theapsca.org

CPD

How do I advise APSCA about my CPD training and Audit days?

For practical instruction on how to upload CPD training and audit days to your APSCA online profile (My Account), please click here.

 Can Firms upload CPD Hours for their Auditors?

No, only Auditors can upload their own training records. Firms can submit training courses for recognition; however Auditors are required to add the recognized courses they’ve taken on the CPD Tab of their APSCA online profile (My Account).

Are trainings made mandatory by Member Firms recognized as CPD hours?

Options of CPD hours include Recognized Training and Independent Submission. APSCA will review trainings/courses once the Member Firm has submitted an Expression of Interest Form.

If I am a freelancer, where should I start looking to find CPD training?

Please visit our website. We have a list of currently recognized courses/trainings and links to their website. We will continue to update this list as more training courses become approved.

How do I upload minutes to CPD? For example, if I have completed training that went for 2 Hours and 45 minutes?

CPD is measured in 0.5 hour increments.

Any course/ training less than 1 hour (less than 1 credit hour) is not recognized. Partial credit hours are permitted when the course/training is over 60 minutes long (example 1.5 hours, 2.5 hours etc.).

Note, time spent sitting an exam as part of the training, are not counted. Only active learning time is counted within the CPD hours.

Is there a list of APSCA recognized CPD courses I can attend?

Yes, visit our website, for APSCA recognized CPD courses.

 Are ASCA Auditors required to do CPD Hours?

No, only RA and CSCA Auditors are required to complete CPD hours. ASCA Auditors are considered to be in training during each audit, therefore we do not require ASCA Auditors to submit their training hours.

 From a Firm’s perspective, is there any mandatory information we need to include in our CPD training courses?

 Auditors must complete 2 hours of ethics training per year. Member Firms should include ethics in their CPD training courses. 

Are CPD requirements based on the calendar year or the date the Auditor reached RA/CSCA Level?

CPD Requirements take effect once an auditor becomes an RA or CSCA and are calculated on a pro rata basis only including the period of time from which they obtained their RA or CSCA status until the end of the calendar year.

How do I submit independent CPD hours?

Steps:

  1. ‘CPD’ Tab on your APSCA online profile (My Account)
  2. Click ‘Add New CPD Entry’
  3. ‘CPD Category’ Dropdown and click ‘Independent Submission’.
  4. Fill in the generated document and add all relevant

Please see, CPD Instructions for more info.

Is it possible for a RA/CSCA to receive CPD hours during an onsite audit when mentoring or training an ASCA during an onsite audit?

Yes! As announced in June 2022 and explained in our Podcast Episode four, CSCA’s who actively mentor or train an ASCA during an onsite audit may claim 2 hours per audit day of CPD training. Please submit as an independent submission.

APSCA Digital Membership Card

Where do I find my Digital Membership Card?

Once you receive an APSCA Membership Number the Digital Card will populate. Go to ‘My Profile’ tab in your APSCA online account (My Auditors).

Will Auditors continue to receive CSCA Card in the mail?

No. The Digital Card has replaced the Card which was previously posted out.  The Digital Card is available for ALL Auditors, regardless of their Level.

Can I download my Digital Membership Card or download it in my digital wallet?

No. You are currently only able to present this card through your APSCA profile from your device.

What is the purpose of the Digital Membership Card?

Auditors should present this card to the factory or facility they are auditing. Please encourage the facility manager to use the QR Code to validate the Auditors’ identity, level, and status. Note, this card is updated in real-time.

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