To view the introduction and information on the EDGE Standards and Certification Framework (Clauses 1-7), please visit: The EDGE Standards and Certification Framework
To view how the EDGE Standards work (Clause 8), please visit: The EDGE Standards
9. EDGE Certification Process and Procedures
There are four main steps in the EDGE Certification process:
- EDGE Strategy or one of EDGE Strategy’s Licensing Partners introduces EDGE Empower® to the client, which the client then uses to measure their performance against the EDGE Standards.
- An ECF-approved Certification Body conducts an independent audit against the EDGE Standards for certification purposes.
- A Certification Body makes a certification decision and, if relevant, a certificate is granted. When a certificate is granted with identified gaps against the EDGE Standards, an Action Plan shall be required.
- When certified, the client may publicly display the relevant EDGE or EDGEplus Certification Seal, communicate about their certification level, and make claims in accordance with the rules and requirements set out in the relevant ECF User Protocols for the level of certification awarded.
9.1. Using EDGE Empower®
The first step towards certification involves the client engaging EDGE Strategy or one of EDGE Strategy’s Licensing Partners to introduce EDGE Empower®.
The purpose of this step is to:
- Determine the 12-month reference period for which certification will eventually be sought.
- Determine the potential scope of certification.
- Review the client’s statistics against the requirements of the EDGE Standards.
- Review the client’s business policies and practices against the requirements of the EDGE Standards.
- Administer the Employee Survey.
- Conduct a pay-gap assessment, if applicable.
- Determine the client’s readiness for certification by identifying gaps or potential areas of non-conformance.
- Help or advise clients about the development of an appropriate Action Plan ahead of the certification audit.
- Help or advise clients about assembling the relevant information and evidence that will enable Certification Bodies and their auditors to work efficiently and effectively.
9.1.2. EDGE Strategy Role: Introducing EDGE Empower®
- EDGE Strategy holds the sole proprietary interest in EDGE Empower®. EDGE Strategy may license other organizations to help clients use EDGE Empower®.
- Clients enter their own data and information into the EDGE Empower® software, having been granted access by EDGE Strategy. Once all relevant data and information are entered into the software, the software is locked and further data, amendments, or other changes may not be made.
- Clients directly access detailed workforce analytics, their Action Plan, and benchmarking against EDGE Standards and against EDGE peers in EDGE Empower®.
- Any person (including personnel, external consultants, or advisers) involved in helping clients with EDGE Empower® shall not be an auditor, consultant to, or employee or member of a Certification Body for the certification process, or an employee, associate or consultant to ECF, as this represents a conflict of interest.
- Because of its role as owner of the EDGE Certification Scheme, ECF may not provide direct advice to client organizations. The only general advice ECF may provide publicly is in the form of written guidance, via the resources and documents related to the EDGE Certification Requirements.
9.1.3. Developing an EDGE (gender-binary) Action Plan to Close Identified Gaps
- During the use of EDGE Empower® by the clients, the likely certification outcome will be generated as a result of the input of the organizational data and information. Such an outcome may result in the need for the client to develop an Action Plan to work on closing identified gender gaps in the workplace so the client may achieve a higher level of certification over time and/or qualify for recertification. Such Action Plans should define the objectives of the plan, the areas that require action, the intended actions, related milestones and outcomes, the budget, and/or people responsible for implementation.
- If indicated, approved Action Plans shall be a pre-requisite for certification. If available prior to the certification audit, any such Action Plan should be submitted to the Certification Body as part of the audit preparation material. However, if the plan has not been finalized or approved prior to the on-site audit, clients shall submit required Action Plans prior to the certification decision by the Certification Body.
9.2. Independent Audit for Certification Purposes
The client commissions an accredited and ECF-approved Certification Body to conduct a certification audit against the EDGE Standards.
The purpose of the certification audit is to verify and check the client’s performance against the EDGE Standards, after the application of EDGE Empower® by the organization for a given reference period.
9.2.2. Primary Data and Information Sources
The certification audit uses the same data sets, questionnaire, analysis, and survey as included in the EDGE Empower® software, as well as the same scoring outcomes that translate into a certification level. The actual certification level a client meets following an audit shall be determined by comparing the audit results with the levels set out in the EDGE Scoring Grid.
9.2.3. Responsibilities of Lead Auditor/s
A lead auditor may be appointed to supervise and lead a team of two or more auditors (including the lead auditor). In such cases, the lead auditor shall be responsible within the Certification Body for:
- Ensuring all auditors are suitably qualified and conform to the auditor training requirements of the EDGE Certification Requirements.
- Ensuring all auditors conduct audits according to the EDGE Certification Requirements.
- Ensuring all certification documents (for example, Audit Reports, certificates, and certification decisions) are handled in accordance with the EDGE Certification Requirements.
9.2.4. Responsibilities of Auditor/s
An auditor is the person who conducts the preliminary desktop review and on-site audit. Auditors shall be responsible for:
- Performing audits of client organizations in accordance with the EDGE Certification Requirements.
- Producing timely and accurate reports of the audits, in accordance with these requirements.
- Staying up to date with developments, issues and regulatory changes relating to auditing in general and EDGE Certification auditing in particular.
9.2.5. Certification Audit Stages
Either during or after the process of using EDGE Empower® in a client organization, there are five key stages in a certification audit relevant to the Certification Body:
- Determining the client’s eligibility for a certification audit and the scope of the certification.
- Contracting with the client.
- Pre-audit planning.
- Performing the certification audit, including a preliminary desktop review and an on-site visit.
- Post-audit follow-up, including signing off relevant corrective actions and reporting.
9.2.6. Eligibility for Audit and Certification
The Certification Body shall determine whether a client is eligible for an audit and ultimately certification by:
- Confirming that the organization for which certification is sought is in the process of using or has already administered EDGE Empower®.
- Confirming that, if indicated by the results of EDGE Empower®, an approved Action Plan will have been developed to address the likely certification outcomes before the certification audit process is complete.
- Confirming that not more than 12 months have passed since the end of the reference period used for relevant client data and information in the EDGE Empower® software.
To ensure that the certification client and their chosen Certification Body have at least six months within which to plan and execute all the certification and audit requirements, including using EDGE Empower® and development of any relevant Action Plan, the Certification Body may grant a variation under the following circumstances:
- If a certification client contracts with EDGE Strategy or a Licensing Partner to conduct an assessment using the EDGE Empower® software between six (6) and nine (9) months after the end of the reference period, the Certification Body may add an additional three (3) months to the eligibility period.
- If a certification client did not contract with EDGE Strategy or Licensing Partner to conduct an assessment until more than nine (9) months passed from a proposed reference period, the client shall be advised that a new, more recent reference period, should be used in the EDGE Empower® software before applying for certification.
- Confirming that participation in the client’s employee survey did or will meet the minimum participation rate requirement, noting that this will be subject to later verification and audit.
Confirming that major changes that may materially affect any EDGE Standards-related issues in the client organization have not occurred since the end of the reference period.
- Under extreme or exceptional circumstances, for example, significant sudden disruptive or unexpected changes, that are considered relevant to the EDGE Standards, a Certification Body shall determine whether the client may proceed with the certification or be required to reuse EDGE Empower® to a new reference period, after separate negotiation with EDGE Strategy or one of EDGE Strategy’s Licensing Partners.
- If there is doubt about how to interpret the above criterion in specific client circumstances, Certification Bodies shall seek guidance directly from the ECF.
- If the client is seeking global certification or to be a part of a global certification within a group of country-level entities, confirming that the client organization and the group meet the requirements set out in Clause 3.3.
9.2.7. Contracting with the Client
- The Certification Body shall have a legally enforceable agreement for the provision of certification activities to the client. In addition, where there are multiple offices of a Certification Body or multiple sites of a client, the Certification Body shall ensure there is a legally enforceable agreement between the Certification Body granting certification and issuing a certificate, and all the sites covered by the scope of the certification.
Any legally enforceable agreement shall establish, at a minimum, the fee, timeframe, confidentiality and data protection safeguards, and scope of the EDGE Certification audit to be conducted, including whether auditing of unexplained gender pay gap (UGPG) regression model inputs and/or a custom-built UGPG model will require auditing.
- For any on-site portion of the certification audit that is conducted remotely, e.g., via video conference, the legally enforceable agreement may also include the option to use the services of independent interpreter/s who speak and read both the local language of the entity undergoing audit and the language in which the audit is conducted (usually English), and whose services shall be provided by, either by employment or sub-contract, the Certification Body. Reasonable fees for these services shall be included, when relevant, in the legally enforceable agreement between the Certification Body and client and shall be borne by the client.
- The Certification Body shall provide and update clients with information about the certification activity to be carried out, including the application, audit procedures, potential follow-up, and the process for granting, maintaining, reducing, extending, suspending, or withdrawing certification and recertification.
- The Certification Body shall provide clients with information about the requirement for audit findings and certification decisions to be based upon objective evidence.
- The Certification Body shall provide clients with information about the requirement to provide the ECF with copies of the final Audit Report and EDGE Certificate granted to the client organization.
- The Certification Body shall provide clients with information about the Certification Body’s procedures for handling complaints and appeals.
9.2.8. Pre-Audit Planning
- The Certification Body shall identify the auditor (or audit team) and advise the client.
- Where a team of two or more auditors is required, a lead auditor shall be appointed to liaise with the client and ECF.
The auditor (or lead auditor) shall liaise with the client to create a plan for the certification audit, including:
- Scheduling of audit activity, including the potential for follow-up activity after the initial audit is complete.
- Information or documents that are required in advance of on-site visit/s.
- Access to information and documents on-site.
- Availability of key client representatives.
- Language considerations and the potential use of translators during the audit process.
- Logistics and any relevant commercial arrangements.
- The likely timeframe for the final Audit Report and any certification decision.
- If translators are to be used during a certification audit, they should be independent from the client being audited. If this is not possible, translators shall play a neutral role and the auditor shall record the name of the translator used and his/her affiliation to the client.
9.2.9. Performing the Certification Audit
Certification audits shall involve the following:
- Desktop and on-site review of documents, data and information, including the inputs to and results of administering EDGE Empower® for the current, and reports of any previous, certification audits and associated Action Plans.
- At the desktop review stage, auditors may choose to pre-fill the Audit Report Template with the data and information provided by the client. This can make the audit process more efficient, allowing the auditor to focus on verifying evidence on-site and enabling any inconsistencies to be clearly indicated.
- Site visit/s, meetings, and interviews with client representatives, including the client’s appointed liaison person.
- Verification of results of EDGE Empower® through on-site review of objective evidence of relevant Data Inputs, Policies and Practices, and Employee Survey results.
- For EDGEplus Certification, verification that the analysis has been performed as indicated by the certifying organization.
- Desktop and on-site review of documents, data and information, including the inputs to and results of administering EDGE Empower® for the current, and reports of any previous, certification audits and associated Action Plans.
- The auditor/s shall use the agreed audit plan to guide the certification audit process.
- The auditor/s shall record specific details of all objective evidence collected, viewed, and reviewed in the Audit Report Template described in Clause 9.2.11 below.
- The auditor/s shall record all relevant observations and other information pertinent to evaluating the performance of the client in relation to the EDGE Standards.
- The auditor/s shall record the names of all people interviewed and/or present during the audit process, including their position/job title or affiliation with the client.
There are three possible ratings that may be applied to each element of the EDGE Standards during the certification audit (and recorded in the Audit Report Template):
- Not validated.
- Unable to be validated – more information required.
- The auditor/s shall attempt to clarify any points of difference and discuss and resolve any misunderstandings before the end of the on-site visit.
- The auditor/s may request additional or more accurate data, or further clarification of information, relevant to the reference period.
- The auditor/s shall verbally present preliminary findings to the client liaison before departing from the site visit and provide an overview of relevant follow-up, reporting and certification decision steps.
- Minor or major inconsistencies (see Definitions) may be found between the information, data or analysis in the EDGE Empower® software and the evidence presented by the client. These shall be recorded in accordance with Clause 9.2.9.f above.
- If major inconsistencies are found between the information, data or analyses in the EDGE Empower® software and that which is audited by the auditor/s, that will prevent the auditor from determining a certification result, the audit shall not proceed further until the client has resolved the inconsistencies to the satisfaction of the auditor.
- Procedures for resolving inconsistencies can be found in Clause 9.2.11.
9.2.10. Action Plans
- Certification level recommendations for EDGE Assess and EDGE Move result in the identification of gender-related gaps that become the subject of an approved Action Plan, developed by the client to make relevant changes to close those gaps, in order to either achieve a higher certification level or to improve scores at recertification.
The client shall examine the causes of the gaps and present the Certification Body with an Action Plan:
- The Action Plan shall contain at least three actions.
- The Action Plan shall include measurable milestones in the form of outcomes, including specific timeframes, which are auditable and verifiable through objective evidence.
- For each measurable milestone, the client shall specify how the action/s are expected to improve the client’s performance against the EDGE Standards.
- Timeframes for achieving actions may extend beyond the two-year certification period, however, in such cases, clients shall define measurable milestones that shall be achieved by the end of the current certification period.
- An appropriate budget and/or allocated resources shall be identified.
- A person or group within the client organization shall be identified as being responsible for the implementation of the Action Plan.
- The Action Plan shall be approved by a senior leader in the client organization whose remit includes the actions in the plan.
The Certification Body shall review the identified causes of gender-related gaps (e.g., the scores against indicators) and the proposed Action Plan to determine whether or not the plan is acceptable and shall inform the client of the result of the review.
- If inconsistencies in the data or information that informed the Action Plan are found during the audit and that would materially affect the proposed Action Plan, the client shall be given no more than one month to fix such inconsistencies in the manner described in Clause 9.2.11, and if necessary, revise and resubmit the proposed Action Plan to the auditor/s for validation.
9.2.11. Post-Audit Follow-Up, Inconsistencies, and Reporting
- During on-site activities, auditors shall evaluate the collected data and information, including records, statements, and other information relevant to the certification audit.
- Inconsistencies may be found between the information, data or analyses in the EDGE Empower® software and that which is audited by the auditor/s. In such cases, the auditor/s may request from the client additional data or documentary evidence, further clarification of information, or more accurate data relevant to the reference period.
- Auditors shall record and communicate to the client any ‘corrective actions’ (see Definitions) that the client needs to take in order to resolve inconsistencies found prior to a certification level recommendation being made.
- Resolving any inconsistencies may require a further on-site audit by the Certification Body that shall be at the client’s cost. Alternatively, the Certification Body may, after considering the risks to the integrity of the certification, including the integrity of the data or information, choose to verify the resolution of inconsistencies by virtual means, e.g., by examining emailed screen shots of the relevant parts of the EDGE Empower® tables or data. The most appropriate course of action shall be determined through consultation between the client and the Certification Body about the relative risks to the integrity and credibility of the certification outcome.
- Resolving any inconsistencies may require the client to apply to EDGE Strategy to open a new data file in the EDGE Empower® software to enable the client to input correct and/or verifiable data and/or information relevant to the reference period being audited.
- The client cannot manipulate the original inputs to the EDGE Empower® software because the inputs are locked when the client clicks ‘Submit All’ to upload the information. In order to correct inconsistencies, the client shall be given the opportunity to communicate with EDGE Strategy. The process for the fixing inconsistencies and whether there shall be additional costs paid by the client to EDGE Strategy shall be determined by negotiation between the EDGE Strategy team and the client.
- The client shall be granted a period of no longer than one calendar month to resolve inconsistencies. If this time expires, the certification shall not proceed. The client may initiate a new process, including meeting all the pre-certification requirements, with all the associated costs borne by the client.
- Under exceptional circumstances, and at the discretion of the Certification Body, a short extension of no more than one additional calendar month may be granted. This includes time that may be granted to comply with Clause 9.2.10.c.i
- If the client wishes to question inconsistencies or elements rated “Not Validated” that are advised to the client prior to finalizing the Audit Report, the client shall be given no longer than 30 days after the on-site audit to raise an informal dispute with the Certification Body.
- In cases of i) above, the Certification Body shall take all reasonable steps with the client to resolve any informal disputes before the Audit Report is finalized and a certification decision is made.
- After the auditor is satisfied that all relevant data and information are accurate, and major or minor inconsistencies, and/or informal disputes have been resolved, the EDGE Scoring Grid shall be used to determine the certification level that has been achieved by the client.
- The auditor/s shall then compile all findings and information, including any corrective actions that were undertaken to resolve inconsistencies, and prepare a detailed Audit Report using the official ECF Audit Report Template.
- The Audit Report shall set out the final evaluation of results, any non-conformances (inconsistencies) and how they were resolved, and the certification level recommendation.
- The Audit Report shall be provided to the Certification Body’s certification decision maker/s.
- After a certification decision has been made a final Audit Report that includes the certification level achieved shall be provided to the client.
- A copy of the final Audit Report detailed in Clause 9.2.11.o) above and a copy the client’s Action Plan, shall be provided to ECF.
9.3. Certification Decision and Granting a Certificate
9.3.1. Certification Decision
- The Certification Body shall ensure that the persons or committees that make the certification or recertification decisions are different to those who carried out the audits.
The Certification Body shall confirm, prior to making a certification decision, that:
- The information provided by the auditor/s conforms to the EDGE Certification Requirements and scope of certification.
- Auditor/s have reviewed and verified any relevant approved Action Plan designed to close gaps identified in the EDGE Empower® software, and that corrective actions to resolve any inconsistencies discovered during the audit have been appropriately closed, and that a certification recommendation has been made.
9.3.2. Granting a Certificate
- The Certification Body shall provide certification documents to the certified client, usually in the form of a certificate.
- The effective date on any certification document shall be the date of the certification decision unless, under rare circumstances, the effective date is backdated to allow for continuity of certification.
- Certification shall be valid for two years.
The certification document/s shall identify and display the following:
- Name and geographical location of each client that is certified to the EDGE Standards, or the geographic location of the headquarters and any sites within the scope of a multi-site certification.
- The validity dates of certification or recertification, including the expiry date.
- The entity-level certification level achieved: EDGE Assess, EDGE Move or EDGE Lead, and, if relevant, whether global certification or EDGEplus has been granted.
- An image of the relevant EDGE Certification Seal (label).
- The reference period to which the certification refers.
- A unique Certification Body identification code for that certificate.
- The version number of the EDGE Certification Requirements, and any other normative document, used for audit of the certified client.
- The name and address of the Certification Body; other marks (e.g., accreditation symbol) may be used provided they are not misleading or ambiguous.
- In the event of issuing any revised certification documents, a means to distinguish the revised documents from any prior obsolete documents.
- copy of the certificate shall be provided to ECF.
To ensure continuous certification, client organizations should apply to EDGE Strategy, or to one of EDGE Strategy’s Licensing Partners, to use the EDGE Empower® software several months before an existing certificate expires. This will allow sufficient time to reapply EDGE Empower® with data and information for a new reference period and to commission a Certification Body to conduct the certification audit in accordance with the EDGE Certification Requirements.
- Provided the recertification process has begun and relevant audit/s are scheduled before the expiry date of an existing certificate, Certification Bodies may exercise limited discretion to extend certificates beyond the expiry date to enable a recertification process to be complete.
- In such circumstances, an anniversary date corresponding to the expiry date of the expiring certificate shall be applied to the new certificate, to avoid continuing or increasing an extension into the future and to maintain the original certification cycle of two years.
- If a certificate expires without recertification being initiated or Certification Body discretion exercised, then Clause 9.3.4.d) shall apply.
- The maximum allowable gap between the end of one reference period and the beginning of another reference period is twenty-four (24) months.
For a client certified at the EDGE Assess level to be recertified, that client shall demonstrate progress and achievement against their current EDGE Certification Scheme client Action Plan and its measurable milestones.
- A client currently certified at the EDGE Assess level may be recertified at the EDGE Assess level up to a maximum of three consecutive certification periods (e.g., six years), after which time if the client does not conform to the EDGE Move level at the fourth certification attempt, the client shall not be recertified and all rights to use the EDGE seals, labels and logos shall be disallowed.
- If a client fails to be recertified under Clause 9.3.3.c).i, the provisions of Clause 9.3.4.d) on suspending or withdrawing certification shall apply.
- If Clause 9.3.4.d) has been applied, and upon resubmitting itself for certification, a client may only be certified if its score achieves the EDGE Move level, unless extreme or exceptional circumstances can be verified (see Clause 9.3.3.c).iv below).
For a client currently certified at the EDGE Move level to be recertified, clients shall demonstrate progress and achievement against their current EDGE Certification Scheme Client Action Plan and its measurable milestones such that the client’s performance (e.g., scores) shall improve on those Areas of Assessment or Key Metrics that scored below the threshold for EDGE Lead.
- Clients that do not demonstrably increase those scores and/or whose performance on other Areas of Assessment or Key Metrics puts their overall score below the EDGE Move threshold shall be recertified at the EDGE Assess level.
- Failure to meet the requirement of Clause 9.3.3.c) ii shall result in withdrawal of certification, and the provisions of Clause 9.3.4.d) shall apply.
- Extreme or exceptional circumstances may have prevented progress on milestones. For example, the client entered into and out of administration, or was the subject of a hostile takeover, merger or acquisition that resulted in the Board of Directors being replaced or a complete change of Top Management team members. In such cases, Certification Bodies may waive the provisions of Clause 9.3.3.c).ii and iii and recertify the client at EDGE Assess for a full two year certification period and require a new Action Plan in accordance with Clauses 9.2.10.j) and k).
For a client currently certified at the EDGE Lead level to be recertified, clients shall demonstrate continued compliance with the EDGE Lead Certification level.
- Clients that do not meet the overall EDGE Lead threshold (score) shall be recertified at EDGE Move or EDGE Assess level, whichever is applicable, and an Action Plan in accordance with Clauses 9.2.10.j) and k) shall be required.
- Any client organization, initially certified at any EDGE (gender-binary) Certification level, has the possibility, as part of their recertification cycle, to deepen their intersectional understanding of gender and non-binary gender identity and LGBTQ+, race/ethnicity, nationality, age, and working with a disability, by opting for the additional EDGEplus Certification.
9.3.4. Suspending, Withdrawing, or Changing the Scope of Certification
- The Certification Body shall have a policy and documented procedure/s for suspension, withdrawal or changing the scope of certification.
- Under suspension, the certification is temporarily invalid. Suspension shall not exceed six months. Failure to resolve issues that resulted in the suspension in the time established by the Certification Body shall result in withdrawal or reduction of the scope of certification.
- Under withdrawal, the certification is permanently invalid.
- Clients that have had certification withdrawn may not apply to an approved Certification Body to be recertified for a period no less than two years.
- The Certification Body shall advise ECF on the suspended or withdrawal status of the certification. ECF will inform EDGE Strategy immediately and shall take any other measures it deems appropriate to ensure that the client refrains from further promotion of its certification.
- Under a change of scope of certification, the Certification Body shall reduce or extend the scope of the certification to exclude the parts of the business that do not meet the EDGE Standards or to include those that do. Any such changes shall immediately be advised to ECF and EDGE Strategy.
9.4. Licensing and Use of the EDGE Certification Seal
- All EDGE Seals, labels, certification marks, trademarks, and the names EDGE Certification, EDGE Assess, EDGE Move, EDGE Lead, and EDGEplus are trademarks and are owned, governed and/or licensed by the ECF.
- Certification Bodies, EDGE Strategy, or EDGE Strategy’s Licensing Partners shall not license the use of any EDGE Seals, labels or certification marks.
- Any party wishing to use or display any of these trademarks on any materials such as documents, websites, marketing materials, among other things, that may be seen in business-to-business setting or in business to public/consumer settings, must be granted permission to do so from ECF once the organization is certified.
- Once certified, the relevant approved Certification Body shall provide the client the relevant EDGE Certification Seal.
- The requirements and rules, and any related fees, for their use or display are specified in the “EDGE Certification Seal User Protocols” for the relevant certification level and shall be provided to the client at the same time as the relevant EDGE Certification Seal.
- Clients that are not yet certified but are undergoing the pre-certification process are expressly excluded from using or displaying any version of the EDGE Certification Seal.
- After approval from ECF on the form and format of materials, Certification Bodies may use EDGE certification seals to advertise and market information about their approved accreditation status to provide EDGE Certification services to potential client organizations. The requirements, rules and any associated fees are specified by and available from ECF.
- Non-client, non-Certification Body use of EDGE Certification Seals or labels is strictly limited to illustrating educational, editorial or research pieces. The requirements, rules and any associated fees are specified and administered by, and available from, ECF in the “EDGE Certification Seal – Non-Certified User Protocols”. Approval for non-certified use remains the sole responsibility of the ECF.
- If there is doubt about whether a license to use EDGE Seals or labels is required, Certification Bodies shall seek advice from ECF.
- The Certification Body shall verify that a client has not used the EDGE Certification Seal or labels outside the terms of the relevant User Protocols established by ECF.
- If a suspected non-conformity with the terms of the relevant User Protocols is found, the Certification Body shall report, in writing, the non-conformity to the client and ECF immediately.
10. Appeals and Complaints
- The Certification Body shall have a documented process to receive, evaluate and make decisions about appeals from clients about EDGE-related Certification Body decisions and findings, which shall be in accordance with Clause 9.7 of ISO/IEC 17021:2011 or ISO/IEC 17021-1:2015.
- To ensure transparency, as part of the Certification Body Approval Process, ECF ensures that all Certification Bodies have a complete description of their respective appeals procedures publicly accessible.
- The Certification Body shall be responsible for all decisions at all levels of the appeals-handling process. The Certification Body shall ensure that the persons engaged in the appeals-handling process are different from those who carried out the audits and made the certification decisions.
- The client shall have 30 days from the date of the final Audit Report to lodge an appeal with the Certification Body.
The notice of appeal submitted by a certification client shall set out clearly and precisely the basis of the appeal. It shall:
- Identify the alleged errors in the audit findings and/or certification decision. And,
- Explain in sufficient detail why it is claimed that the alleged errors made a material difference to the outcome of the audit or the fairness of the audit process. And/or,
- Explain in detail how the Certification Body or its auditor/s failed to follow the EDGE Certification Requirements such that this substantially impaired the findings and/or certification decision.
- The appellant shall support any allegations made in an appeal with as much relevant and objective evidence (as defined in Clause 6 of the EDGE Certification Requirements) as possible.
- If an appeal is upheld and the Certification Body or auditor/s were found to commit an error of judgement or act in error such that the audit findings and/or certification decision were materially or substantially impaired, such findings and/or certification decisions shall be rectified and a revised Audit Report and/or certification decision shall be issued.
The Certification Body may charge appellants appropriate costs to cover the time and relevant expenses related to handling an appeal.
- Any fixed costs that will be charged to appellants shall be advised prior to the commencement of formal appeal handling.
- Likely or potential variable costs that may be charged to appellants shall also be advised prior to commencement of formal appeal handling.
- The Certification Body may require the appellant/s to pay some charges prior to the commencement of formal appeal handling.
- The Certification Body shall have a documented process to receive, evaluate and make decisions about complaints. This process shall be subject to requirements for confidentiality, particularly with regard to the complainant and the subject of the complaint.
- To ensure transparency, as part of the Certification Body Approval Process, ECF ensures that all Certification Bodies have a complete description of their respective complaints procedures publicly accessible.
- Upon receipt of a complaint, the Certification Body shall determine whether the complaint relates to certification activities for which it is responsible, and if so, deal with it. If the complaint relates to a certified client, then examination of the complaint shall consider the context and substance in relation to the EDGE Certification Requirements.
- Complaints shall be handled in accordance with Clause 9.8 of ISO/IEC 17021:21(E) or ISO/IEC 17021-1:2015.