How to count the number of employees?

We regularly get audited by regulatory and certification bodies, as well as the occasional supplier, and one question that is always asked - often related to cost/time allocated - is the number of employees.

Should I report just the personnel related to the scope of the audit? Or do you include all personnel, regardless of role? In the past, I've just reported all, as it made no difference. But now we've got a handful of people doing non-QMS related stuff (they are on-premise the same shift as everyone else, but don't interact with the quality system at all).

I get varied answers from auditing bodies. Personally, I don't think they need to be included if their role is outside the scope of audit, and that those auditing bodies that say they should are just wanting you to report the highest employee count possible especially if it increases the calculated audit time.

Curious to know what others think...

Sidney Vianna

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Staff member
For Q&E accredited certification, IAF MD 5 stipulates:
2.3 Calculation of the Effective Number of Personnel

2.3.1 The effective number of personnel as defined above is used as a basis for the calculation of audit time of management systems. Considerations for determining the effective number of employees include part-time personnel and employees partially in scope, those working on shifts, administrative and all categories of office staff, repetitive processes and the employment of large numbers of unskilled personnel in some countries.

2.3.2 The justification to determine the effective number of personnel shall be available to the client organization and to the Accreditation Body for review during their assessments and on request from the Accreditation Body.

2.3.3 Part time personnel and employees partially in scope
Dependent upon the hours worked, part time personnel numbers and employees partially in scope may be reduced or increased and converted to an equivalent number of full time personnel. (e.g. 30 part time personnel working 4 hours/day equates to 15 full time personnel.)

2.3.4 Repetitive process within scope
When a high percentage of personnel perform certain activities/positions that are considered repetitive (e.g. cleaners, security, transport, sales, call centers, etc) a reduction to the number of personnel which is coherent and consistently applied on a company to company basis within the scope of certification is permitted. The methods incorporated for the reduction shall be documented to include any consideration of the risk of the activities/positions.

2.3.5 Shift work employees
The CAB shall determine the duration and timing of the audit which will best assess the effective implementation of the management system for the full scope of the client activities, including the need to audit outside normal working hours and various shift patterns. This shall be agreed with the client.

2.3.6 Temporary unskilled personnel
This issue normally only applies in countries with a low level of technology where temporary unskilled personnel may be employed in considerable numbers to replace automated processes. Under these circumstances a reduction in effective personnel may be made, but the consideration of processes is more important than employee numbers. This reduction is unusual and the justification for doing so shall be recorded and made available to the AB at assessment.
Thanks for the reference Sidney!

Do you have any input/examples to clarify what is intended by "partially in scope", or "administrative and all categories of office staff"?

For example, in our situation, we have various part-time staff who:
- handle travel/accommodation when execs travel
- cleans the office
- accounting, bookeeping, banking
- explore other business opportunities outside the scope of our certification

None of these are directly tied to the quality system, and hence none have any training regarding the QS, nor to they interact with any aspects. To me, it would seem misrepresentative of the size of our organization to count these for QS audit purposes.

Sidney Vianna

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Staff member
Partially in scope:

A Project Manager that works in multiple projects and some of them would be in the scope of certification and some, not.

A welder that fabricates some equipment that would be in the scope of certification and some, not.

Admin personnel could be in scope, depending on how you classify them. E.g., buyers, or should I say procurement agents? My favorite, sales people, a.k.a. customer acquisition (and disappointment) specialists...
Ok, makes sense.

...and I presume that "within scope" is unstated but assumed for everything else. e.g. "administrative and all categories of office staff [within scope]".

So all the roles I mentioned can be justifiably excluded. This makes sense to me. :agree1: Thanks!

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