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;
  • Review of records processes, procedures and policies related to Code sections;
  • 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 organisation 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  

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 firms and auditors?

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

I have been told that I need to use a CSCA to conduct my audit, but I understand APSCA does not have many– what do I do?
APSCA announced their first group of CSCAs in December 2019, and anticipate certifying  more auditors throughout 2020. In the meantime, Registered Level Auditors (RA) have the same rights, responsibilities and obligations of a CSCA during our roll-out period as per APSCA Code & Standards of Professional Conduct (See Pg. 1 of Code)

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 Code and Standards of Professional Conduct 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.

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

APSCA does not consider virtual/remote assessments/audits a social compliance audit. As such, an auditor cannot put their APSCA number on any virtual/ remote assessment report as it is not a social compliance audit as per APSCA’s definition of a Social Compliance Audit (as defined in our Glossary of Terms and our FAQ page, above).

 

General

How did APSCA Develop the Competency Framework for Auditors?

APSCA developed, with the support of Working and Consultation Groups as well as public comment, a Competency Framework which identifies the areas and skillsets expected of a social compliance auditor. 

APSCA Competency Framework is available via APSCA’s website (Become a Member Firm) and includes the competency areas, against which, APSCA Member Auditors are being tested via a 3-part exam.   

If you require further information please let us know – however if the auditor(s) in question would like to liaise with us directly or their audit firm we would be very happy to speak with them about this.

We understand 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 CSCA’s can accurately assess and report non-compliances or observations.  These 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, that the audit requestor or program owner, validates the presence of these competencies.

It is also a requirement of the Member Auditor to include a disclaimer to the audit report, this can be found under 4.1.3.2 of the 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 our Privacy Statement (noted at the bottom of this document) or email us director@theapsca.org. 

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 (Currently, USD6,000)

For a complete overview of the membership application process and fees, visit Become a Member page on APSCA’s website. 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 are three (3) membership categories for the purpose of APSCA voting rights at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) and determining seats on the Executive Board. These categories are dependent on the number of CSCA / Registered Level 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 not be noted.

If after review of the Code and Standards of Professional Conduct you’re still unsure if you’re 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’s Code and Standards of Professional Conduct.

APSCA Member Firms (excerpt) –  use of Subcontractor/ Freelance Auditors:

APSCA recognizes that many of our Members use Subcontractor/ Freelance auditors.  As per APSCA’s Code & 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 a full-time 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 Member Auditors.  These details are assessed against APSCA’s 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 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 Competency Framework as well as their audit log having been signed off by an 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 exams. Exam eligibility is currently assessed against a signed audit log and requirements as outlined in APSCA’s Competency Framework. These details determine both an auditor’s APSCA level and their eligibility to sit the 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 etc., as well as providing consent for APSCA to maintain this information and sign the APSCA Code and Standards of Professional Conduct.  This information is assessed against the Competency Framework for Auditors and, as well, the Member Firm shall confirms 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’s Competency Framework and the Auditor Handbook which is provided to the auditor once eligibility to sit the exam has been verified. 

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 Competency Framework as well as an Auditor Handbook to support the Audit Firm and individual Auditor in their preparation.

Are beverages (tea or water) permitted during exams? 

Yes – tea or water is permitted for test takers to have on-hand during their exam. 

What happens to an auditor’s status level who does not pass a CSCA exam (Part I, II, or III)? 

If a passing mark is not achieved for any exam taken (be it Part I, II, or III), the auditor will be reassigned to the level of ASCA until such time as they can pass that exam.

How can I confirm the credentials of an APSCA Auditor? 

Member Auditors – you will need the Auditors Member Number and surname.

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 one’s career. For additional guidance, see our  Use of APSCA Member Number – Guide.

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 do NOT publicly post your specific number. 

If after review of the Code and Standards of Professional Conduct you’re still unsure if you’re 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 in place 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 in 2020 it 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 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 is now operational and we receive queries/ allegations about the conduct of our Members when it relates to the 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 APSCA’s Code they may be in violation of and obtain their feedback.

Who makes up APSCA’s Disciplinary Board?

APSCA has two disciplinary boards – one for Member Firms and one for Member Auditors:

  • Our Member Firm Disciplinary Board 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 Disciplinary Board for Member Auditors has 5 members – 2 from a Member Firm, 1 from a collaborative program, 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 Disciplinary Board are done so anonymously, neither the Member Firm or Member Auditor’s name is disclosed. If a member of the Disciplinary Board for Member Auditors has 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 any violations/misconduct?

As per 2.3 and 5.3 of APSCA’s Code & 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 Disciplinary Board (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 Disciplinary Board will be given the opportunity to respond to the allegations.

Membership Fees

What is the membership term?

Membership is PER calendar year (Jan.-Dec.), regardless at what time during the year you join.

How much are auditor membership fees?

Auditor Membership Fee for 2020 is USD100 per auditor/calendar year

How much are audit firm membership fees?

Audit Firm Membership Fee is set by the Executive Board, annually.  Membership fees for 2020 is USD9,000/calendar year

My membership status is listed as “Inactive” – who do I contact? 

Please contact director@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 has one account, one APSCA Member Number and can be associated with however many Member Firms as you are working with.  However, APSCA will seek authorization from the Member Firm(s) before they can link to the auditor.  The same will apply, if a Member Firm requests to be linked to an individual Auditor we will seek authorization from the Member Auditor prior to the link being completed.  Contact us at director@theapsca.org for help.

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

Email our Data Administrator at data.administrator@theapsca.org

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

Email our Data Administrator at  data.administrator@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 director@theapsca.org

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