The state of the workplace has changed drastically over the last few months, but that does not mean that all regular business practices have come to a halt. As an employer, you will still have to be aware of any potential audits coming your way, and you must be wary of how this year’s events may affect next year’s audits. Both ethical and financial audits will be affected by variables caused by the outbreak of COVID-19 and there are certain preparations that can be made that will save you a big headache.
Here are some things to keep in mind when preparing for an audit during COVID-19.
What is a SMETA Audit?
If you are in an industry such as logistics or supply chain, chances are you will be familiar with the SMETA audit or will have one coming up soon. The Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit is one of the most widely used ethical trade audits formats across the globe and ensures ethics and transparency in the workplace.
They are conducted to ensure that companies are following standardized ethical codes of conduct in areas like labor standards, health & safety and business ethics, among others. Audits like these are beneficial in the sense that they can unearth some unbeknownst problems, and fixing those problems within the allotted grace period can lead to your company operating at its highest potential.
Health & Safety Audits
Regardless of industry, in the age of COVID-19, certain ethical issues carry a heavier weight than others, health and safety arguably being the top contender. Concerns surrounding the cleanliness and safety of a workplace are at an all-time high, and regulations enforcing these measures have been put in place. These audits are essential during COVID-19; a poor performance could be the deciding factor of whether or not your workplace will be allowed to reopen at all.
Before a health and safety ethical audit, make sure that: your workplace can accommodate social distancing measures (if possible); you have adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks and gloves available at all times; and that the general cleanliness (and frequency of cleaning) of the workplace is up to code.
Also, updating employee manuals and documentation surrounding COVID-19 health and safety policies and procedures so that your employees have access to them is critical. This will ensure that your staff can be briefed on any COVID-19 related health and safety regulations when they return to work and can perform them accurately.
Despite the various workplace changes many employers have seen lately, requirements to complete your annual financial audit are still in place. Preparing for a financial audit during this time presents a different set of considerations than an ethical one.
It is likely that your financial situation has changed in some capacity over the past few months. Whether that means laying off employees, cutting senior staff wages, accepting wages subsidies or something else, you must ensure your books reflect these changes. Recording any financial changes in budget, income, inventory etc. is crucial for both this year’s audits as well as the following year, so it will be beneficial to label any COVID-19 related changes as such for reference. COVID-19 audits may be somewhat more forgiving, but it is good practice to record everything accurately.
This year’s audit will be different in almost every sense of the word. In some situations, audits may still need to be done from a distance in compliance with social distancing recommendations. If this is the case for you, make sure you have all necessary measures in place so that your remote audit can go off without a hitch. This could mean granting your auditor remote access to your workplace or your financial records, or setting up virtual meetings with your auditor through a video conferencing app. Having these things in place beforehand will ensure your audit starts off on the right foot.
Next Level Group is always happy to help our clients navigate the ever-changing COVID-19 related best practices. If you have any questions regarding audits or have another inquiry, don’t hesitate to let us know. Contact us today.