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Travelife Auditor Code of Conduct
The Travelife Auditor Code of Conduct sets out the values and principles that must guide the daily work of Travelife auditors. The independence, powers and responsibilities of auditors place high ethical demands on Travelife and the individuals it employs or engages for audit work. Travelife believe that the conduct of auditors should be beyond reproach at all times and in all circumstances.
Any deficiency in the professional and personal conduct of auditors can have serious consequences; the integrity of auditors, Travelife, and the quality and validity of their audit work could be called into question with doubts being raised about the reliability and competence of Travelife itself.
The adoption and application of a code of conduct for Travelife auditors promotes trust and confidence in the auditors and their work. It is of fundamental importance that Travelife is looked upon with credibility. Therefore, all Travelife auditors must observe and comply with the principles and requirements set out in this Code of Conduct.
Integrity is the core value of a Code of Conduct and it can be measured in terms of what is right and just. Auditors have a duty to adhere to high standards of behaviour (e.g. honesty and candidness) in the course of their work and in their relationships with the staff of audited entities. In order to sustain public and private sector confidence, the conduct of auditors should be above suspicion and reproach. It is expected that all Travelife Auditors will: –
Observe both the form and the spirit of auditing and ethical standards
Observe and display the principles of independence and objectivity
Consistently maintain irreproachable standards of professional conduct
Always make decisions with the public interest in mind
Apply absolute honesty in carrying out their work and in handling the resources of Travelife
Independence from the audited entity and other outside interest groups (such as other hotels, hotel chains, tour operators and other related tourism services providers) is indispensable for auditors. It is expected that Travelife Auditors will: –
Always behave in a way that increases, or in no way diminishes, their independence
Strive to be independent of audited entities and other interested groups
Always be objective in dealing with the issues and topics under review
Are independent and impartial, not only in fact but also in appearance
Ensure they do not allow their independence to be impaired by personal or external interests such as external pressure or influence; personal prejudices about individuals, audited entities, projects or programmes; recent previous employment with the audited entity; or personal or financial dealings which might cause conflicts of loyalties or of interests
Refrain from becoming involved in all matters in which they have a vested interest
There is a need for objectivity and impartiality in all work conducted by auditors. Implicit upon accepting and undertaking an audit, the auditor declares that they will act impartially and not allow any commercial, financial or other pressures to compromise their impartiality. In addition, it is expected that Travelife auditors will; –
Produce accurate and objective audit reports
Draw conclusions and opinions that are based exclusively on evidence obtained and assembled in accordance with Travelife’s auditing standards and the Auditor’s Technical Guide
Make use of information brought forward by the audited entity and other parties. This information is to be taken into account in the opinions expressed by the auditors in an impartial way
Gather information about the views of the audited entity and other parties yet not let the auditor’s own conclusions be influenced by those views
Prior to and during the certification process, the auditor shall not give prescriptive advice to a client in a form and to a level of detail that could compromise its ability to undertake an impartial certification
Avoid providing undue advantage to entities being certified by ensuring that information is not provided to assist tourism service providers strengthen the sustainability of their operations that has not been made available to all other existing and potential clients
Ensure certification evaluations are not undertaken by anyone whose impartiality may be compromised by having provided consultancy to the client.
Auditors must declare any situations that may present them or Travelife with a conflict of interest.
When auditors are permitted to provide advice or services (“Consultancy Services”) other than audit to an audited entity, Auditors should ensure that these Consultancy Services do not lead to a conflict of interest.
Under no circumstances is it acceptable that Consultancy Services and auditing services of an audited entity are provided by the same individual.
If Consultancy Services and auditing services are provided by an organisation, this organisation is obliged to establish a clear separation between the Consultancy Services and the auditing services and the individuals engaged to provide such services, and to demonstrate this has been achieved to the satisfaction of Travelife and in compliance with GSTC requirements.
Personal & Professional Relationships
Auditors should avoid all relationships with managers and staff in the audited entity and other parties that may influence, compromise or threaten the ability of auditors to act and be seen to be acting independently.
Auditors should not use their official position for private purposes and should avoid relationships which involve the risk of corruption or which may raise doubts about their objectivity and independence.
Auditors should not use information received in the performance of their duties as a means of securing personal benefit for themselves or for others. Neither should they divulge information that would provide unfair or unreasonable advantage to other individuals or organisations, nor should they use such information as a means for harming others.
Auditors should protect their independence and avoid any possible conflict of interest by refusing gifts or gratuities which could influence or be perceived as influencing their independence and integrity and should at all times act in accordance with Travelife’s anti-corruption and anti-bribery policy.
Auditors have a duty to conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times and to apply high professional standards in carrying out their work to enable them to perform their duties competently and with impartiality including having passed the Travelife training requirements as described in the Agreement. It is expected that Travelife Auditors will: –
Not undertake work they are not competent to perform
Understand and follow applicable auditing, standards, policies, procedures and practices
Possess a good understanding of the constitutional, legal and institutional principles and standards governing the operations of the audited entity
Demonstrate fluency of both written and verbal English
Auditors should exercise due professional care in conducting and supervising the audit and in preparing related reports.
Auditors should use methods and practices of the highest possible quality in their audits.
In the conduct of the audit and the issue of reports, auditors have a duty to adhere to basic and generally accepted auditing standards.
In addition to the training requirements set out in section six, Auditors have a continuous obligation to update and improve the skills required for the discharge of their professional responsibilities.
From 2023 onwards, new auditors must complete an online theory training course, achieving a 100% pass mark. They must then complete practical individual training over 3-days with our Senior Auditor. This will involve observing live audits over the 3-day period then passing an online exam. There is no cost for the training but trainees must their travel, accommodation and subsistence costs.
Trainees then need to be observed carrying out one live audit that they will be paid for. Provided the observation audit assessment is passed, they will then be allowed to audit alone during a probationary period that covers their first 5 audits, for which they will be paid normally.
If they do not pass the observed audit assessment, or any other part of the training, Travelife will decide the next course of action that could include more training, more observed audits or a conclusion of the relationship.
At the end of the probation the auditor’s performance will be assessed in a variety of ways including feedback from hotels, reviewing audit reports and possibly more observed audits. If Travelife are satisfied then the onboarding process is complete and the auditor will enter into our regular auditor quality control programme. If Travelife are not satisfied with the quality and consistency of the audits at the end of the probationary period, Travelife will decide on the next course of action that may involve further training and development, or termination of the agreement.
Travelife auditor quality control programme
It is essential that all of our audits are carried out completely, professionally and consistently. For this reason we have a audit quality control programme in place that includes the following:
Each year auditors are required to complete online refresher training that usually consists of 2 or 3 technical modules that cover specific parts of the certification requirements, particularly ones Travelife have noticed inconsistencies with, 1 compliance module (e.g. anti-bribery and corruption) and 1 auditing skills module (e.g. completing audit reports, conducting interviews). Auditors must achieve a 100% pass rate but are given several re-sit opportunities.
The best way to keep auditing skills sharp is to keep auditing! From 2023 all auditors will be required to carry out at least 5 Travelife audits each year in order to remain contracted. The audit operations manager will monitor audits throughout the year and work with and auditor if it looks like they may miss this target.
From time-to-time Travelife may require auditors to complete other training either to address an area that needs improvement or because new requirements or processes have been introduced. Travelife will make every effort to ensure this training happens online but occasionally this may necessitate auditor’s travelling to a training course at their own cost.
Travelife strongly encourages auditors to take advantage of any local or online training or seminars that will enhance their sustainability knowledge or auditing skills.
From 2023 all auditors will be observed at least once every 2-years during one of their live audits by a senior auditor or one of the Travelife certifications team. This is an opportunity for auditors to have individual time to discuss auditing practices, challenges and so on. Auditors will also be provided with feedback and offered guidance for any areas requiring improvement.
Each audit report undergoes a series of quality checks by the Travelife certifications team. They check that the right level of detail has been provided, that comments are clear and that audits are been carried out consistently. Auditors are given immediate feedback if something is not right with the report, along with time to make corrections and improvements. Each year from 2023 onwards, the certifications team provide an overall assessment of the quality of each individual auditor’s audit reports and Travelife will pass on this feedback, along with details of any recommended improvements.
After each audit the accommodation provider is sent a short survey asking them to provide feedback about how the audit was carried out. The questions cover topics such as communication, timekeeping, professionalism and being thorough. Travelife monitors this feedback as it comes in to check for areas needing immediate improvement. Each year from 2023 onwards, year Travelife compiles all of the feedback for each auditor before it is shared with them along with any recommendations for improvement.
Managing a global team of auditors and hundreds of audits each year is complex. It is important that Travelife keep accurate records and maintain our financial accounts property. That means that auditors correctly and promptly completing administrative tasks such as responding to emails regarding audit scheduling and submitting invoices on time is a critical part of their work. Travelife monitor timeliness and accuracy throughout the year, letting an auditor know as soon as possible if there is a problem. Each year from 2023 onwards, Travelife will provide each auditor with general feedback on their administrative tasks along with any recommendations for improvement.
From 2023 onwards, each auditor will be provided with an annual review that summarises their performance across all of the areas mentioned above, including the results of the hotel surveys. If areas for improvement are identified, this will be discussed with the auditor so that a plan can be put in place to address these. This plan could involve shadowing a more experienced auditor, having more of audits observed or additional training.