Policy, Liability and Impartiality

Certification Services, Liability & Impartiality

Our accredited certification services are available to all client organisations within the accredited scope and operated in a non-discriminatory manner with zero toleration of undue financial or other conditions offered as a method of discrimination.

IMPARTIALITY COMMITTEE

The Impartiality Committee is comprised of members who are selected from among those interests involved in certification and can collectively represent a balanced view without any dominating interest.

The Impartiality Committee is responsible for the performance of certification activities by approving certification policy and monitoring its implementation, which is implemented by our Managing Director and all of our employees.

CERTIFICATION SERVICES

SC-UK does not provide management consultancy. This applies to all SCI operations that are part of the same legal entity (offices) and those that are covered by license agreement (agencies).

All SC local operations are required to complete an impartiality declaration as part of their License agreement prior to commencing their working relationship within the SC-UK Group.

All relationships in existence with any member of the SC Group must be declared to SC-UK for review and analysis relating to any threat to impartiality in SC-UK provision of assessment and certification services. Such information will be presented to the SC-UK Impartiality Committee for further review and analysis.

The term ‘relationship’ in this instance must be applied as something that has legal foundation, with longevity and traceable origin (such as auditable accounts or Companies House records). It cannot be a tenuous or temporary link (such as external independent sub-contractors who work for many organisations and invoice individually through their own non-related companies for services rendered and who are not guaranteed the provision of outsourced work).

When a relationship is deemed to pose an unacceptable threat to impartiality, then certification will not be provided to any organisation affected by this threat.

What we don’t do:

  • Certify another certification body for its management system certification activities
  • Knowingly be marketed or offered as linked by any organisation that provides management system consultancy. Appropriate action will be taken where this situation is identified, particularly if this includes inappropriate claims by that organisation that our services will be favorable in terms of simplicity, ease, cost or speed if approached through that consultancy organisation
  • State or imply that our services will be favorable in terms of simplicity, ease, and cost or speed if a particular consultancy organisation is used
  • Provide internal audits to its certified clients
  • Not certify a management system on which it provided internal audits for a minimum of two years following the completion of the internal audits
  • Certify the management system of a client for a minimum of two years following
  • the end of the consultancy services provided by a body with a relationship to SC-UK.

What we do:

  • Require all personnel whether directly employed by us, or through an agreement or contract with us, to declare any situation known to them that may be a conflict of interest in performing their duties
  • Appraise our finances and sources of income and periodically demonstrate to the Governing Board and Impartiality Committee that commercial, financial or other pressures have not compromised our impartiality.

Audit Processes

Our sustainability management system describes our operating processes. The system operates by firstly understanding our stakeholder needs and then planning how these will be satisfied. The elements of different Certification Services are then created and sold in combinations that match the customer’s needs and the level of management system maturity. The solution is then delivered as planned before business results of effectiveness and efficiency are reviewed and any improvements actioned. This sustainability cycle is supported by key support processes that cover the management of IT, people, partners and money. SC-UK does not have any processes where the service /product cannot be tested before use by the customer.

The Assessment Process

The ‘Initial Assessment’ process with SOCOTEC Certification International (SC-UK) is split into two separate audits, although no extra time is added as a result of the two stage approach. We follow a two stage process for all our certification schemes which is a standard accreditation requirement that all UKAS accredited Certification Bodies follow.

The Stage 1 Audit is aimed at checking in full the preparedness of the organisation; it extends further than a document review and considers the suitability of the management system that has been developed. This means that for an organisation that has not covered essential control requirements, these are identified at an early stage which reduces the risk of subsequent ‘failure’.

The Stage 2 Audit is aimed at checking the effectiveness of the implementation of the developed system. In particular we will look at the evidence of use from records and this audit is the point at which we will make the decision on the overall certification.

These audits are separated usually a month or so to allow any improvements to be implemented following the Stage 1 Audit and are normally undertaken by the same auditor to ensure continuity and familiarity.

Successful completion of the initial assessment including closure of any outstanding non-conformities usually results in the issue of a UKAS Accredited SC-UK certificate. This will be for the scope of activities and Standard confirmed from the assessment. SC-UK will also provide to certified organisations the combined logos for them to publicize and promote their registration status on letterhead and corporate documentation. In the event that your initial assessment is unsuccessful, this will result in refusal of certification. However, you will have the opportunity to complete this initial assessment again.

The Certificate will be valid for three years, subject to an annual surveillance requirement. The first surveillance audit will be on or before the anniversary of the Stage 2 audit and the subsequent surveillances will be no more than twelve months apart. At the end of the three years, a reassessment audit is required; this is completed with the third year surveillance audit, approximately two months prior to the expiry of the certificate.

Use of Certification Mark

The use of the UKAS Combined Mark is not mandatory but is only allowed if the certification has been granted under accreditation.

All the rules regarding the use of the Certification Mark can be found in the Guidance Document provided with the registration logos.

You may not use the UKAS Combined Mark on:

  • Vehicles
  • Flags
  • Buildings (except internal walls and doors and exhibition stands)
  • Promotional products

In the event of withdrawal of certification, your local contact would inform you of procedure and transition period to cease the use of the combined mark on your communication tools.

Suspension, Withdrawal, or Reduction of Scope of Certificates

Certification may be suspended if an organisation

  • Fails to maintain its management system or it contravenes the certification scheme regulations.
  • Does not allow for surveillance or re-assessment audits to be performed in the prescribed time
  • Voluntarily requests suspension

Procedures are maintained for the withdrawal and cancellation of certificates in these circumstances.

Withdrawal will normally be considered if there is no resolution to the issues raised that resulted in suspension and suspension has been in place for 6 months.

Alternatively, where an organisation has failed to adequately maintain its management system or it contravenes the certification scheme regulations in a part of its scope, SCI may reduce the scope of certification accordingly.

Maintenance, Renewal and Extension of Certificates

MAINTENANCE OF CERTIFICATION

Surveillance audits have critical schedule timing requirements. If surveillance audits are delayed such that they are outside of the required tolerances then additional audit time may be required to compensate for the delay.

RENEWAL OF CERTIFICATION

Reassessment audits also have critical schedule timing requirements:

  • +/- 2 months from the target date and
  • No less than 3 months before the expiry date of the certificate

Conversely; it may be necessary to bring forward the RA to meet client needs such as seasonal demands etc.; in these cases, the RA should ideally not be brought forward to more than 6 months prior to certificate expiry. However; each case will be considered independently based on the justification given

EXTENSION OF CERTIFICATION
Additional audit time may be required when a standard is updated to a new version or the client requires an extension to their current scope of certification.