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Changes coming to the Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) for Goods providers

We’re making changes to enhance our Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ), the assessment tool that allows our members to discover risks and make improvements to working conditions. This article explains why we’re making these changes to the SAQ for Goods providers, and how they may impact you.

What is the Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ)

The Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) is a set of questions for businesses to complete about their business practices, management systems, policies, and information about workers. Suppliers can share this information with multiple buyers, and buyers can use this information to understand whether their suppliers are meeting international labour standards.

What is a Goods provider?

A Goods provider is a company or person producing a physical item for customers, from raw materials to finished goods. (e.g. garment manufacturing, appliances, agriculture).

Service providers, Labour providers and Agents will not yet be impacted by this update.

Why are we making changes to the SAQ?

We’ve been engaging with buyer and supplier members to understand how we can deliver even more value from our SAQ.

  • From buyers, we understand that companies are happy with how the information from the SAQ automatically generates a risk score and helps them prioritise which of their suppliers requires the most attention.
  • For suppliers, we know that companies find it useful to apply feedback from the management controls report to improve their business practices and also use the SAQ as a pre-audit tool to help them prepare for a SMETA audit.

Whilst we know members find huge value in the SAQ, we also know that suppliers can find it a challenge to gather the information to complete it. So we’re focusing on simplifying the SAQ to make it easier to complete for suppliers. This means buyers can receive the SAQ report sooner, while still delivering all the valuable data companies need.

What improvements can suppliers expect from the new SAQ?

  • Easier to complete SAQ – We are significantly cutting the number of questions and reducing the number of questions that require data that’s difficult to collect. Suppliers will also receive better guidance and instructions on how to complete the SAQ.
  • Improved design and faster performance – Suppliers will be able to complete the SAQ on the new platform which has a better user interface and improved page loading times.
  • A clearer understanding of why each question is being asked – There will be an explanation next to each question that clarifies why the question is being asked and how this information is useful for customers.
  • See the progress your company is making over time – Suppliers will be able to track their progress each time they complete an SAQ, helping them to demonstrate the business value of taking positive action.
  • Better reporting output and SMETA audit preparation – Once completed, suppliers will be able to see their assessment results with practical action that can be taken to prevent labour exploitation, helping to better prepare for a SMETA audit.
  • Easier for multi-site suppliers to complete – Companies that have several production sites can complete 75% of questions at the central level and apply these across multiple sites.

What changes can buyers expect from the new SAQ?

  • Faster SAQ completion – We are cutting the maximum number of questions and limiting the number of questions that require data that is difficult to collect so buyers will notice SAQs are completed in a shorter timeframe. Suppliers will also receive better guidance and instructions on how to complete the SAQ which will improve the completion rate.
  • Better visibility around recruitment and housing of migrant workers – To enhance the risk assessment results that come from the SAQ, we’ll be asking more questions about how migrant workers are recruited, and the standard of their housing.
  • Improved alignment with SMETA  – The SAQ will be structured to have the same sections of the SMETA audit report, helping suppliers and auditors to better prepare for a SMETA audit. We’ll be able to highlight when any audit non-compliances are inconsistent with answers provided in the SAQ.

Once we have launched the new SAQ, we will be working on bringing in other benefits such as:

  • Improved reporting to track supplier progress – We’re developing a new KPI dashboard that helps set supply chain targets and supports improvement. Members will be able to see previous versions of the SAQ to monitor improvements made over time.
  • Increased trust in the data – By aligning the SAQ with SMETA, we’ll also be able to automatically prepopulate a SMETA report and highlight any inconsistencies found during an audit, increasing trust in the SAQ data.

When can members expect these changes?

We’ve been conducting a pilot with a group of Supplier members since the new year, we are excited to report that the new SAQ process has been extensively tested and has received overwhelmingly positive feedback.

The changes to the SAQ will be released in phases to give members time to adjust: 

  • Phase 1 Wednesday 17 May 2023: New SAQ will be available to any new supplier sites and any existing supplier sites that haven’t yet started their SAQ.
  • Phase 2 Q3 2023: New SAQ will be available to complete for all existing Buyer/Supplier and Supplier sites.
  • Phase 3 – Late 2023: KPI dashboard for buyers and prepopulating SMETA reports with SAQ data.

How to prepare for the changes?

We regularly run webinars on updates to our platform and tools, which are a good opportunity to keep up to date with the changes coming in greater detail and allow you to ask any questions you may have about the new SAQ. Plus we will be updating our e-Learning platform, guidance documents and FAQs.

In the meantime, if you would like a list of the questions that will be in the new SAQ please email  

Frequently Asked Questions

How long before Sedex switches the current SAQ ‘off’, how long will it be ‘valid’ for and how can I report on both versions while the switchover is taking place?

From when we launch the new SAQ for Goods providers, the current SAQ will be available for 6 months on Advance, Analytics and Radar. This will be available in read-only, so suppliers will not be able to make any amends to it.

For example, if we launch the new SAQ in April 2023, you can view and report on that site’s SAQ until October 2023.

After 6 months the ‘old’ SAQ data will be deleted, and the supplier will need to complete the new SAQ for you to view or report on.

Do all my suppliers need to complete the new SAQ?

We advise that all Goods provider sites should complete the new SAQ once it is available. Our general advice is that SAQs should be updated every 6 months.

Service Provider, Labour Provider and Agent type sites will continue with the current SAQ and won’t need to do anything.

As a supplier, will my existing SAQ answers be transferred to the new SAQ or will I have to recomplete it?

Unfortunately, it won’t be possible to transfer your existing answers to the new SAQ. This is because the questions that will be asked differ from the original question set.

How many questions will the new SAQ ask?

The maximum number of questions for Goods Providers is down from 286 to 158 (a reduction of 57%). For the smallest companies with fewer than 10 workers, the new maximum number of questions is 52.

What languages will the new Self-Assessment Questionnaire support?

From launch, we are expecting to support English, Chinese, Spanish, Japanese, Turkish and Vietnamese.

Will I be able to download the SAQ questions and complete them offline?

Not straight away. We are investigating other ways for suppliers to complete their SAQs offline.

How do I check whether my site is a Goods provider?

If you’re not sure what your site’s business type is, you can visit Sedex Advance:

  • From the ‘Company’ tab select ‘My Company’
  • Scroll to ‘Sites Information’ and select the relevant site
  • Within ‘Company information’ there will be a field titled ‘Business type’ and display whether you are a Goods provider, Service provider, Labour provider or Agent

If want to change your Business type, you can edit this information within Sedex Advance on the ‘View site’ page by selecting ‘Edit’ at the bottom of the page.

Service providers, Labour providers and Agents will not yet be impacted by this update.

Will my own or my supplier’s Risk Score change?

As it’s a new set of questions, we wouldn’t expect the risk scores to be identical, but we do expect them to be similar to the current ones so that sites can be compared regardless of which SAQ they have answered. It’s likely that a site’s new risk score will fall within the same bracket as it does currently (High, Medium or Low) but the number won’t be exactly the same.

Is there a minimum completion rate expected from the new SAQ?

No, the more questions answered in the new SAQ the more accurate the feedback and risk scores will be. The new SAQ is designed to give members precise feedback on areas for improvement, but that only works if the site provides a full and honest set of answers for us to give feedback on.

How long will the new Self-Assessment Questionnaire take to complete?

During the pilot, most suppliers took between an hour and a half a day to complete the questionnaire. The length of the questionnaire varies depending on company size and some important factors about what the site offers (e.g. do they provide worker accommodation?) so we would expect the smallest companies to spend less time on the questionnaire than larger companies do.

Will Sedex be providing any support to encourage members to complete the new SAQ?

We will inform all supplier members when the new SAQ goes live and send reminders for the first 6 months to complete the SAQ. Training webinars will also be available for suppliers to ask questions and get support.

How will the new SAQ affect buying organisations?

Buyers will see old and new SAQs in reports, depending on which one the site has completed. All sites will continue to have the same types of risk scores, percentage completion and last modified dates. Worker numbers for Goods Provider sites will also start to appear differently as sites start to complete the new questions.

I have a SMETA audit scheduled for 2023, do I need to do anything?

Depending on when the SMETA audit is scheduled, complete or update the SAQ that’s in your Sedex account before the auditor arrives on site. We recommend having an up-to-date Sedex SAQ when a SMETA audit takes place. If you have any doubt as to what the auditor needs to see and when, please speak to the relevant audit company.