Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit (SMETA) is one of the most widely used ethical audit formats in the world.

What is SMETA?

SMETA is an audit methodology, providing a compilation of best practice ethical audit techniques. It is designed to help auditors conduct high quality audits that encompass all aspects of responsible business practice, covering Sedex’s four pillars of Labour, Health and Safety, Environment and Business Ethics.

SMETA is designed for suppliers to share one audit with multiple customers, meeting multiple customer requirements and reducing duplication in ethical auditing. SMETA has three elements:

  1. A common Best Practice Guidance on conducting ethical trade audits
  2. A common Audit Report format
  3. A common Corrective Action Plan format

Nearly 20,000 SMETA audits are uploaded onto the Sedex platform every year. 

Each SMETA audit carries a unique reference code to ensure the SMETA audit is appropriately validated. It can be used in a regular site audit or in the Sedex Offline Audit Tool. SMETA is available in English, Spanish and Chinese.


SMETA workflow guidance

Are you new to Sedex and want to know more about ethical auditing and SMETA? Whether you are a supplier preparing for your SMETA audit, an auditor using SMETA or a buyer who needs their suppliers audited, you can find step by step guidance below.

Download all SMETA guidance documents


SMETA is available for all Sedex Members, who would like to have a SMETA audit.

Sedex Buyer or Buyer/Supplier Members can conduct SMETA for their own sites and only auditors with a Sedex Affiliate Audit Company (AAC) account can conduct SMETA.

All auditors conducting SMETA are required to pay a fee to access SMETA or upload (non-SMETA) audits on the Sedex platform. This cost is fixed and will be charged directly to the audit company:

• SMETA Audits are £50 per audit for audits conducted for Sedex Members
• SMETA Audits are £150 per audit for audits conducted for non-Sedex Members
• Non-SMETA Audits are £200 per audit for audits conducted for Sedex Members

For more information, please contact

Changes and improvements in SMETA 6.1

Sedex reviews and updates SMETA on a regular basis to ensure it is meeting the current needs of responsible sourcing and incorporates new updates to legislation changes.

SMETA is developed and maintained by the Sedex Stakeholder Forum (the SSF). The latest version of SMETA, 6.1, was updated in May 2019.

Some of the news features in SMETA 6.1 include:

  • Amending the definition of migrant worker and adding the option to record worker nationalities
  • Adding an option to add a site’s co-ordinates/GPS location
  • Updating the data protection to reference GDPR
  • Enabling auditors to track nationalities of workers from UN sanctioned countries – under ‘entitlement to work’
  • Adding a section for the Worker Wellbeing Assessment

You can access the full summary guide about the changes here.

Improvements to Sedex Advance to carry forward non-compliances

We have been improving Sedex Advance’s functionality to carry forward non-compliances. This will deliver a process for handling open non-compliances (NCs) for a site on a previous audit report, helping to avoid duplication and remove redundant open non-compliances from Sedex Advance.

The functionality will allow Sedex Members and Auditors to manage the quality of audit data and move towards providing a true and verified picture of current and open non-compliances.

When we introduce this new process, we will run a one-off “clean-up” of open historical non-compliances on Sedex Advance. All open non-compliances that have been superseded by a new published periodic audit will automatically close and change into a new status of superseded.

Going forward, when a new periodic audit is initiated on a site, all open non-compliances that date back to the full initial audit or last periodic will carry forward to the new periodic audit. You can read more information about the new process on our Non-compliance carry forward process FAQ.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens to follow-up audits if the original audit was conducted in SMETA 6.0?

It will be possible to conduct partial follow-up audits against SMETA 6.0 for up to one year, until 30 June 2020.

Some of my customers require a semi-announced audit. If this is during the transition period, how will I know whether it will be conducted in SMETA 6.0 or 6.1?

It is recommended that the window given for semi-announced audits is set either prior to or after the date the auditor starts using SMETA 6.1. This will help avoid any possibility of bridging the implementation date.

Will SMETA 6.1 be available in languages other than English?

SMETA 6.1 will be available in English, Spanish and Mandarin. Where reports and CAPRs are needed in a language other than English, these should be dual language and must include English.

What guidance is available for SMETA users?

There are a series of guidance documents to help you understand what to expect from a SMETA audit, actions you can take to prepare for your audit, and how to address any non-compliances (NCs).

Guidance on Operational Practice and Indicators of Forced Labour – How to spot the signs of actual, likely or possible cases of forced labour, for both auditors and audit readers.

SMETA supplement for service providers – Guidance supplement for assessing working conditions for employees of service providers and contractors working at sites of Sedex member companies or remotely from their employer’s operation.

Additional documents are available specifically for Sedex members via Sedex e-Learning.

What other types of audits does Sedex accept?

Sedex Advance will accept any type of first-party, second-party and third-party ethical audit:

  • First-party audit: An audit performed within an organisation by the organisation’s own auditing resource (internal audit). This will often highlight areas for improvement which can be corrected before a visit from an external auditor.
  • Second-party audit: Audits of contractors/suppliers undertaken by or on behalf of a purchasing organisation. These can be used to identify problems which can be worked on together.
  • Third-party audit: Audits of organisations undertaken by an independent certification body or registrar or similar third-party organisation. This is the most commonly used audit for most Sedex members and is widely accepted as more impartial.

All of the above audits can be useful. However, it is important to check your customer’s requirements before committing to a particular audit type.

Check local law

You can check the law for your region on the NATLEX Database – a database of national labour, social security and related human rights legislation maintained by the ILO’s International Labour Standards Department. Some auditing companies may also provide this service for you.

Further resources

The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) has some useful resources on ethical and social auditing.

How do I feedback on SMETA?

We are keen to hear from SMETA users of all kinds. Your feedback will help shape future versions of SMETA and best practice documents. To tell us what you think, please fill in one of our short online forms:

Do I have to register with Sedex to share my SMETA audit with my customer?

Yes. While you may be able to have a SMETA audit conducted on your site, your customer will expect to review this within our platform, Sedex Advance. In order for your audit to be uploaded to Sedex Advance, you must first be a member. Signing up is easy and can be completed in minutes.

Download the SMETA 6.1 documentation

Download the SMETA 6.1 guidance documents to support you through the SMETA audit process.

Related services

“For us the business case is simple. We need to ensure that the suppliers we partner with are working in an ethical manner, and SMETA offers robust ethical audits that help inform and guide us when making these decisions. And because our suppliers can share those audits with multiple buyers, we all avoid unnecessary duplication, saving time and money across the supply chain.”

Sharon Childs – Finance Director and Head of Sustainability at The Sourcing Team

Sedex Guidance for members during the coronavirus pandemic

Sedex’s guidance document seeks to provide buyers, suppliers and audit firms with:

  • Guidance on managing labour standard compliance
  • Clarity on the SMETA audit process

Both during and after the outbreak. Sedex will review this guidance regularly as the situation develops.

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