Complaints, Concerns, & Grievances
Social Accountability Accreditation Services (SAAS)—a department of SAI that provides assurance services—has defined procedures for managing grievances and other concerns against systems in our purview. In order to be credible, an audit program must be responsive to the various types of dissatisfaction that may relate to the certified organization, a SAAS-accredited certification body, or SAAS itself.
Extensive processes are implemented to address various allegations of wrongdoing, incorrect decision-making, and other program dissatisfaction. Under most circumstances, an allegation is best handled by the closest agent to the source of the dissatisfaction – these should be routed to (or will be assigned to) certified organizations, certification bodies, or within SAAS itself, as appropriate. For example, if the allegation of wrongdoing relates to the certification validity of a certified organization, the certification body is responsible for the investigation and follow-up. The different paths are defined further below.
Each allegation and investigation outcome is handled and communicated in a non-discriminatory manner that provides an appropriate balance between openness and confidentiality. Each credible allegation received by SAAS is acknowledged and routed appropriately for investigation and resolution. The complainant is informed throughout the process and ultimately receives notification of the outcome from the assigned investigating party (the certified organization, certification body, or SAAS).
Allegations of wrongdoing, incorrect decision-making, or other dissatisfaction may be made against a certified organization, an individual certification body, or SAAS. Allegations should address acts that are:
- current and specific;
- serious, and/or systemic;
- directly relate to normative requirements invoked within certification schemes overseen by SAAS;
- violate the SAAS accreditation or certification methodology or the applicable Standard; and
- wherever practicable, allegations shall be submitted in English.
To be accepted for review, each allegation must:
- fall within the scope of the (SAAS accredited) certification scheme;
- be made in writing (with the assistance from a second-party if needed – e.g. for translation into English).
Complainants should be aware that, as an accreditation/oversight body, SAAS does not make certification decisions and is not directly accountable for wrong-doing at a certified organization. Under the SAAS-administered program certification bodies are contractually obligated to evaluate and respond to allegations regarding organizations they have certified.
SAAS routinely oversees these processes through its monitoring program and, where necessary, through direct oversight of (and potentially involvement with) the certification body’s complaint-handling activities. Should an accredited certification body fail to handle complaints effectively and in accordance with program requirements, the certification body’s accreditation certificate may be suspended or withdrawn.
While investigation outcomes are always communicated, due to legal and contractual constraints inherent in third-party certification programs, it is usually not possible for the investigating organization to share with a complainant every detail of an investigation process, and/or actions taken by any party as a result the findings of the investigation.
Need to submit a complaint?
On this page:
- General SAAS Complaint Process
- How to Submit a Complaint
- Additional Details
Have feedback about the SA8000 system?
SAI welcomes all feedback and suggestions related to the SA8000® Standard. Submit your feedback by email or mail to our HQ Office.
How to Submit a Grievance Concerning…
Report to Certified Organization
Report through the relevant grievance channel at the organization or to the Social Performance Team (SPT), a union representative, or management.
If grievance is not resolved to your satisfaction…
Report to CB
…the quality/ outcomes of a CB’s practices
Report to Certification Body
Report through an auditor, local, or global management as appropriate.
If grievance is not resolved to your satisfaction…
Report to SAAS
SA8000 Complaints & Feedback
The SA8000 system requires a 3-tiered approach to complaints.
Certified organizations are required to maintain an effective grievance process so that employees, personnel and other stakeholders can raise concerns and those concerns will be thoroughly investigated. If an employee is dissatisfied with the outcome or process in their organization, they may escalate the grievance to the CB.
Certification Bodies (CBs) must maintain an effective process to handle complaints about a specific organization’s certification, as well as complaints from employees that have been escalated beyond the individual organization level. If a complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome or complaint process at the CB level, they may escalate their complaint to SAAS.
Social Accountability Accreditation Services (SAAS), the assurance division of SAI, maintains a complaints management system for complaints against a Certification Body (i.e. improper certification or auditing procedures or decisions) and complaints that have been escalated from the organization and CB level. The scope of the SAAS investigative process is focused on the audit performance, conduct of the audit, and decision-making process of the CB. The investigation revolves around the certification and accreditation requirements applicable to the audit process. Contact Us
Other SAAS Programs
SAAS sometimes engages with external companies and organizations to provide assurance services. These are usually on a limited basis and the programs under active SAAS purview change over time. Follow instruction in chart above to submit complaints for any program.
SA8000 Certificates not Accredited by SAAS
SAAS accreditation provides independent confirmation of CB integrity and competence to deliver a credible certification audit within the SA8000 certification scheme. SAI (the SA8000 scheme owner) recognizes only those certificates issued by SAAS-accredited CBs. Non-accredited CBs (or those accredited by an organization other than SAAS), sometimes claim to offer alternative SA8000 services, which may be cheaper, combine consulting with certification, and/or offer a “no certificate = no fee” model. Please recognize that such services and/or certificates are not recognized by SAI and are not accepted by brands or retailers as equivalent to legitimate SA8000 certificates. To report an unaccredited SA8000 certificate or to inquire about the validity of an SA8000 certificate, please contact SAAS at [email protected].
SAAS Complaints & Appeals System Details
Credible certification programs must be responsive to potential dissatisfaction with certified organizations, accredited CBs, and the accreditation body itself. For the certification programs it oversees, SAAS defines and implements processes to address allegations of wrongdoing, incorrect decision making, and other program dissatisfaction.
Reporting and Escalation of Dissatisfaction
The reporting and escalation outline below defines how any interested party may raise and pursue allegations of wrongdoing or dissatisfaction related to SAAS-accredited certifications. Note: Deviations from this escalation process may be appropriate under exceptional circumstances.
Level 1: Allegations concerning Certified Organization (CO) performance or operations are reported to (as appropriate):
- CO’s trade union representative(s) or worker representative(s); and/or
- CO’s social performance team (SPT) members; and/or
- CO’s senior management representative responsible for health & safety;
- Only if there is NO satisfactory response should the concern be escalated to the CB issuing the certificate (see below).
Level 2: Allegations concerning the quality or outcomes of a CB’s practices (and escalations from Level 1, above) are reported to (as appropriate):
- CB’s appointed auditor, lead auditor, client manager; and/or
- CB’s local management; and/or
- CB’s global management;
- Only if there is no satisfactory response should the concern be escalated to SAAS.
Level 3: Allegations concerning the validity or integrity of a CB’s practices (and escalations from Level 2, above) are reported to (as appropriate):
- SAAS auditor, lead auditor, client manager; and/or
- SAAS head office;
- Only if there is no satisfactory response at this level should the concern be escalated to SAI’s head office.
Level 4 (Appeal): A documented request by a CB for reconsideration of any adverse accreditation decision (and escalations from disputes that cannot be resolved amicably through routine communications) are reported to (as appropriate):
- SAAS auditor, lead auditor, client manager; and/or
- SAAS head office.
In most cases, allegations are best handled by the agent closest to the source of dissatisfaction. Allegations should be routed to (or will be assigned to) the relevant certified organization, CB, or SAAS itself, as appropriate. For example, if the allegation of wrongdoing relates to the validity of a certification, the CB that issued the certificate is responsible for investigation and follow-up.
SAAS handles and communicates about each allegation and investigation outcome in a non-discriminatory manner that provides an appropriate balance between openness and confidentiality and requires CBs and certified organizations to do the same. SAAS acknowledges and then routes all credible allegations for appropriate investigation and resolution, keeps the complainant informed throughout the process, and notifies them of the outcome from the assigned investigating party (the certified organization, CB, or SAAS).
Allegations Escalated to SAAS
If, after following the ‘Reporting and Escalation’ sequence above, a complainant remains dissatisfied with the processes or outcomes of investigations by a certified organization and CB, the complainant may request SAAS consider the allegation(s).
Any person or entity may raise an allegation or express dissatisfaction within the scope of SAAS activity and oversight. Complainants have the right to remain completely anonymous or may choose to make their identity known only to SAAS. Investigations may be more efficient and effective if communications are not constrained by anonymity; therefore, SAAS encourages complainants to provide the requested contact information. SAAS treats all personally identifiable information and/or contact details shared with us as completely confidential and will not share these details with other parties. Allegations from anonymous sources and allegations not defined or communicated clearly may be subject to communication delays.
All expressions of dissatisfaction must fall within the scope of SAAS accreditation and/or certification criteria to be accepted. SAAS strongly encourages complainants to use our online form to submit all complaints. Alternatively, complainants may download and the complaints form and submit with supporting evidence to SAAS (go to contact info).
For SAAS to investigate an allegation thoroughly, it is important to include all available information. To the greatest extent possible, each allegation should:
- be individually stated;
- be supported by additional evidence, such as names of individuals involved/impacted, dates, documents (if documented information is relevant to the allegation, attachments should be included if available);
- clearly reference applicable program requirements/expectations against which the allegation is made.
SAAS reserves the right to reject allegations that cannot be adequately justified or clarified by the complainant.
Investigation & Outcome Reporting
SAAS reviews each allegation for the criteria described in “Allegations Escalated to SAAS” before progressing to a triage and evaluation process, which results in development and execution of an appropriate action plan. As a result, SAAS may elect to investigate an accredited CB or certified organization’s actions (as appropriate) through a scheduled or unscheduled audit, document review, or other such action.
Based on the evaluations, SAAS shall consider whether there are operational risks and opportunities to be addressed and, if so, shall require implementation of corrective or preventive actions (commensurate with risks or opportunities identified) to address probable or actual causes. Upon completion of the evaluation, SAAS notifies the complainant in writing that the investigation has been carried out and action taken.