FAQs

Fast Forward currently operates in the UK with plans to pilot in a number of other countries.  Please contact us to discuss your interest in piloting Fast Forward in other countries.

As the Fast Forward audit is known to be effective at uncovering sensitive or serious issues, it is critical that there is a nominated brand responsible for ensuring steps are taken to remediate any issues identified and collaborative with other shared customers to support the supplier on continuous improvement. As the Fast Forward audit is different to some other social compliance audit methodologies, it is also a requirement that Brands become Members before they can view pre-existing full audit reports and in order to commission Fast Forward audits. This ensures they have received appropriate induction and training, and have committed to the General Regulations of the programme.

Fast Forward recognises the important role we can play as a voluntary initiative in aiding both suppliers and buying companies to play their respective roles in building fair and sustainable supply chains, therefore we require that both brands and suppliers are part of the programme. We have undertaken a number of developments in the last two years to support this, and have further actions planned, as we seek to transition from an audit and improvement programme, to a truly collaborative sustainable supply chain programme. Read more.

Fast Forward audits can only be commissioned by Member Brands.  Once an audit has been commissioned, the audit body/auditor contacts the supply chain business to complete the Audit Scope and Business Details record for the purpose of agreeing the scope, arrangements and fee for the audit.

Fast Forward’s Apparel and General Merchandise (AGM) programme is currently open to AGM brands and retailers that have manufacturing, warehousing, goods not for resale and/or service provider supply chains in the UK. AGM brands and retailers interested in learning or hearing more about Fast Forward should contact us.

Companies in the Construction sector that wish to deploy Fast Forward audits can join the Stronger Together Construction programme.

Companies in other sectors looking to engage in Fast Forward should contact us to learn more about collaborative and bespoke opportunities.

At Stronger Together, we prioritise workers and impact. All our programmes, including Fast Forward, are based on the principles of collaboration and continuous improvement of labour conditions. We offer education on fair work and practical tools to encourage businesses to continuously improve in their human rights due diligence. Our programmes are open to all businesses who want to commit to build more responsible supply chains. For this reason, we do not exclude who can be part of our programmes. We monitor commitment, engagement, and progress via various assessment frameworks.

Brand Member is open to all sizes of businesses, with a commitment to demonstrate continuous improvement in transparency, due diligence, purchasing practices and remediation through the programme’s Ethical Maturity Framework and 1-2-1 support.







Brand Associate is open to UK small and medium sized brands with a global turnover under £36 million. While benefiting from many of the same features, this provides a programme introduction with progress occurring over the first and second year into full membership.

The Fast Forward Supplier Engagement Programme is open to any Supply Chain business in the UK. It offers a package of support to help suppliers continuously improve and meet latest legal and ethical compliance requirements. For an annual subscription, suppliers benefit from access to training, webinars, regularly updated briefs and guidance, and supplier forums.

Suppliers supplying into Apparel and General Merchandise programme Member Brands, can also access the SupplyShift platform to view and submit progress on improvement actions from their audits and benchmark performance against other suppliers.

Fast Forward audits are only available to businesses supplying into Fast Forward Member Brands.

Audit bodies interested in becoming Fast Forward approved should register their interest.

Excerpts below are from the Fast Forward General Regulations, available to SEP Subscribers and Member Brands.

1.3 Audit Overview

The Fast Forward Audit is a management systems audit, developed by ethical and labour standards auditing experts in seven areas of ethical compliance:

Core standards

  1. Workers are eligible to work in the UK
  2. Workers are paid at least the national minimum wage
  3. Workers are treated fairly in accordance with employment law
  4. Workers are provided with a safe and hygienic working environment
  5. Workers are not subjected to mistreatment and have access to remedy
  6. The business has an appropriate structure, overarching business and ethical policies, performs due diligence on its supply chain, and accurately calculates and pays tax in accordance with legislation.

Optional

  • The business maintains an effective and relevant Environmental Management System (EMS)

Within each area of ethical compliance, the Fast Forward Audit assesses businesses’ performance against a set of technical standards mapped to national legislation and good practice standards, including the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) Base Code. The Fast Forward Audit reviews management systems control points (policies and procedures, training and communication, monitoring and governance) that are examined by the Auditor to assess adherence to the technical standards. The management systems approach places the onus on the business to prove compliance to the standards, rather than on the Auditor to prove non-compliance. The seventh compliance area – environmental management – is optional, with the decision made by the commissioning Brand. 

All Supplier Engagement Programme (SEP) Subscribers and Member Brands have access to a Dashboard containing all the Core Standards and guidance on what’s required in a Fast Forward audit, which are available in written and video format, with helpful links to templates, resources and documents. SEP Subscribers get 1 training space per annum to support the implementation of labour standards improvements in their business.

In addition, we provide webinars on key topics chosen by SEPs, forums where suppliers can share challenges and best practice, and newsletters to help keep businesses ahead of legislative and labour standards developments.

The detail of the individual audit control points are not shared with audited businesses to maintain the integrity of the programme and the management systems approach.

Suppliers and Brands are however provided comprehensive guidance on what is required in the Fast Forward programme.

Excerpts below are from the Fast Forward General Regulations, available to SEP Subscribers and Member Brands.

5.8            Audit Control Points and Ratings

The onus is on the Supply Chain Business to demonstrate their level of conformance with a series of Fast Forward Control Points.  Each Control Point is assigned a weighting as follows:

  • Critical
  • Major

Depending on the evidence observed, the Auditor will award a Compliance Status to each individual Control Point as follows:

  • Beyond Compliance
  • Standard Compliance
  • Partial Compliance
  • Non-Compliance
  • Audit Evasion
  • Not applicable

Each of these Compliance Statuses is defined for each individual Control Point and not all Control Points will have all the Compliance Statutes as may be appropriate. In reaching a rating for each Control Point the Auditor will also assess compliance against appropriate local legal requirements.

The Compliance Status awarded for each individual Control Point will determine the Supply Chain Business with one of the following Audit Outcomes:

CategoryDescription
LeadingBeyond compliance in over 25% of control points where this is possible and: no findings of Audit evasion; no critical control point non-compliances or partial compliances; no major non-compliances; less than 25% major partial compliances. Sets example for good practice.
PerformingNo findings of Audit evasion; no critical control point non-compliances; less than 25% of critical partial compliances; less than 50% of major control point non-compliances or partial compliances. Positively engages in improvement process.  
DevelopingNo findings of Audit evasion; less than 25% critical non-compliances; 25% or more critical partial compliances; 50% or more major control point non-compliances or partial compliances. Positively engages in improvement process.  
Under ReviewSigns of hiding or misleading data through 1 or more findings of Audit evasion for critical or major control points or 25% or more critical control point non-compliances.

The commissioning Lead Brand is the audit owner.  The Brand and Supplier agree payment arrangements for the audit.

The Lead Brand receives all reports.  The audited business receives the Audit Score, Indicator Metrics and Corrective Action Plan Report.  The Supplier continues to gain all the benefits of the SEP to continuously improve and stay ahead of legislation.

The audit is conducted against the technical standards and control points which are aligned to UK legislation and international labour standards. These are detailed in the Fast Forward Supplier training and ‘Core Standards’ section of your website dashboard.

In line with the Fast Forward Supplier Engagement Programme Terms and Conditions 5.1, businesses are not permitted to use the Fast Forward logo nor describe themselves as being Fast Forward ‘approved’, ‘accredited’, ‘certified’, or any equivalent term.

If you are an SEP subscriber, you are very welcome to communicate to clients and externally that you have signed up to the Fast Forward Supplier Engagement Programme. Suppliers may not use the Fast Forward logo in any way. The Fast Forward brand(s) you supply receive your audit report and will therefore know about your performance.

Please contact the audit company who has been commissioned to carry it out.

All employers should have their own client login for their HMRC online account whilst the external accountancy firm will have a separate accountants/agents’ login. We would recommend discussing this with your accountant to ensure that you have your client log-in details available for the audit.