A client may wish to lodge a formal appeal against the membership of an audit team (auditors, observers, and interpreters), audit findings, certification decisions or the handling of a complaint / dispute.
WCS is responsible for all decisions at all levels of the appeals-handling process and ensures that the persons engaged in the appeals-handling process are different from those who carried out the audits and made the certification decisions.
WCS will be responsible for gathering and verifying all necessary information to validate the appeal.
The following procedure is followed in the event of an appeal:
2. APPEALS AGAINST THE AUDIT TEAM
If a client wishes to appeal or object against the inclusion of any of the audit team, observers or witness assessors involved in a planned audit, the matter should be brought to the attention of a Certification Manager for investigation and resolution.
The client should contact WCS within 5 working days of receiving notification of the audit. Notification is usually in the form of the receipt of an audit plan.
Whenever possible, the client will be asked to provide details of the appeal in writing (email is sufficient).
The appeal will be reviewed by a Certification Manager. If the appeal is considered to be reasonable, WCS will identify a suitable replacement(s) and advise the client of the change. There must a valid reason for appealing against a team member such as impartiality issues, previous complaints. Auditor preference is not a valid reason for an appeal.
Details will be retained in the Appeals Register which is used for recording and tracking of all types of appeal.
WCS will inform the client of the results of all appeals.
3. APPEALS RELATING TO AUDIT FINDINGS AND DECISIONS
If a client is unhappy with the handling of a complaint or dispute, or if an assessment has been unsuccessful and non-conformances raised, the client will be advised that they have the right of appeal and shall be instructed that the appeal must be made in writing. Likewise, if a recommendation from an assessment is not supported by the Certification Manager and certification is refused, a client will be made aware of the right of appeal. The client will be instructed to refer to the requirements in the Certification Regulations. Although a copy of the Regulations should already have been provided at the time of application, an additional copy can be provided if requested.
The client will be informed that the formal appeal must be sent to WCS within 10 working days of the dispute arising.
On receipt of the appeal the Certification Manager must be notified.
The Certification Manager will enter full details of the appeal in the Appeals Register and acknowledge receipt of the appeal.
The Certification Manager will assign an independent appeals panel who have not been involved in the audit, complaint investigation, dispute or decision.
The appeals panel must have at least two members and one must be a trained auditor in the scheme.
The Certification Manager will agree the date and place for the appeal to take place. This must be within 30 days of receipt of the appeal.
The client appealing will be asked to provide any addition evidence and can attend if required. Every effort should be made to obtain factual and documented evidence for review.
The Certification Manager will advise the appellant, in writing, of the date and place of the appeal.
The appellant will be advised of progress or if timescales are likely to be exceeded.
If considered necessary, the auditor may be invited to attend the meeting to provide a first-hand account of the case, or alternatively, be asked to take part in a teleconferencing call.
The appeals panel decision will take account of the information provided and also the results of previous similar appeals. The details of the appeal will be fully evaluated. If the appeals panel feels that a decision cannot be made without further technical support then the appeal hearing will be suspended depending input and review from a technical expert or impartiality committee member representing the scheme.
Records of the appeal will be maintained including minutes and decisions.
The appeal decision will be communicated in a timely manner to the appellant.
The decision of the appeal panel is final.
Submission, investigation and decision of the appeal will not result in any discriminatory actions.
If the appeal has been unsuccessful then the certification manager will request the client to provide any applicable corrective action and that full details are recorded and records retained for subsequent review.
If the appeal has been successful, necessary corrective actions should be proposed and executed, e.g. retrained of the auditors, etc.
WCS will give formal notice to the appellant of the end of the appeals-handling process
All Appeals submitted to WCS will be subject to periodic review by the Accreditation Body, to ensure fairness and impartiality of the Appeal process.