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Sedex solutions for building resilient supply chains and protecting workers during COVID-19 disruption

The outbreak of COVID-19 is amplifying current disruptions in global supply chains and it is critical for business to protect people’s working conditions, while maintaining business continuity.

During this complex time, it’s critical for businesses to collaborate effectively and flexibly with their partners and suppliers in real-time, and make expectations and commitments clear to all parties throughout the supply chain.

Sedex is working actively on flexible and innovative solutions to support our members during the COVID-19 outbreak. We have just issued guidance on the impact of COVID-19 on SMETA audits and we are recommending that members delay SMETA audits for the time being, to support containing spread of the virus. However, due diligence, responsible business practices and protecting workers is vital during this time of disruption. We recognise that delaying due diligence efforts for uncertain periods of time and in ever evolving geographies and context – will have negative impacts on members’ responsible sourcing programmes.

Sedex would like to help members navigate the challenges linked to the outbreak of COVID-19 as much as possible. We are therefore actively looking at alternative and more flexible methods to uphold due diligence, that we can provide during the outbreak when physical on-site visits are limited. These include piloting:

  • Virtual assessments of sites – Offering a virtual assessment for sites will support businesses to bring some level of due diligence on specific areas. Whilst we acknowledge that virtual assessments are not full SMETA audits, they enable businesses to continue to protect workers during times of significant disruption. Sedex will be trialling virtual assessments in the coming weeks to understand more about the approach and how they can be used.
  • Direct worker reporting – Hearing directly from workers is more important than ever. Working conditions are and will continue to be affected during and post the coronavirus pandemic. Sedex is excited to be piloting a direct worker reporting offering in the coming weeks to test how we can take this service to the next level and offer it more widely to our membership.
  • Enhancing the use of desktop verification for follow-up audits – We are considering waiving some of the physical follow-up and potentiate the use of desktop verification. We are currently going through our guidance documentation to understand how we can do this.
  • COVID-19 Impact Assessment – We are currently considering a specific limited methodology for assessment of sites for the post outbreak of COVID-19. The scope of this is to specifically address the prominent issues that are occurring due to the disruptive health, safety and economic impacts of the outbreak. The assessment would have a limited scope audit focusing on areas directly of importance post outbreak – health of workers, hours and wages (including statutory benefits), unauthorized subcontracting, responsible recruitment (including child labour) and restriction on freedom of association.

Sedex will continue to update our members regularly on progress and development. If you have any questions, please contact us at