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Appendix 2: Terms of reference of the Acas Council Audit committee

The Accounting Officer and Acas Council have established an Audit Committee to support the Chief Executive of Acas in his (or her) responsibilities for issues of risk, control and governance, finance and associated assurance. The Audit Committee is an advisory body with no executive powers.

Membership

A representation of each of the tripartite elements of the Council will be members.

Committee membership will be reviewed by the Acas Council biennially.

Attendance of meetings

The Accounting Officer, Director for Corporate Development and Finance, Head of Finance, and representatives from Internal Audit, External Audit (National Audit Office) and Acas regions will attend as required.

Meetings

The Audit Committee will meet at least three times a year. The Chair of the Audit Committee may convene additional meetings as deemed necessary.

A minimum of two members of the Audit Committee will be present for the meeting to be deemed quorate.

The Audit Committee may ask any other officials to attend to assist it with its discussions on any particular matter and is authorised to obtain independent professional advice if it considers this necessary.

The Audit Committee may ask any or all of those who normally attend but who are not members to withdraw to facilitate frank and open discussion of particular matters.

The Accounting Officer (or Council) may ask the Audit Committee to convene further meetings to discuss particular issues on which they want the Committee's advice.

Access

The Head of Internal Audit and the representative of External Audit will have free and confidential access to the Chair of the Audit Committee.

Reporting

The Audit Committee will formally report back in writing to the Council after each meeting. This report will also be submitted to the Acas Board who will consider the work of the Audit Committee annually.

Duties

The specific duties of the Audit Committee will be to:

  • review corporate governance assurances including Acas' systems for the assessment and management of risk, the Statement of Internal Control and monitoring arrangements for maintaining standards of business conduct and probity
  • review the accounting policies and accounts including the process for review of the accounts prior to submission for audit, levels of error identified and management's letter of representation to the external auditors
  • consider the planned activity and results of both internal and external audit work
  • consider the adequacy of management's response to issues identified by audit activity, including external audit's Management Letter
  • consider assurances relating to the corporate governance requirements for Acas.

Information requirements

The Audit Committee will be provided with the information required to enable the conduct of business as outlined in the 'Programme of Work' as shown in Annex 1.

Annex 1

Programme of work

The Audit Committee will meet in June, October/November and January/February of each year.

The Summer meeting will:

  • Consider Internal Audit opinion for the financial year just finished
  • Comment on the accounts for the year just finished prior to their submission for external audit
  • Consider the results of the Accounting Officer's review of the effectiveness of the system of internal control in relation to the Statement of Internal Control (SIC) and comment on the consequent draft SIC prior to submission for external audit
  • Review Internal Audit's finalised work plan for the year just begun
  • External Audit report of results of interim audit

The Autumn meeting will:

  • Consider mid year report on emerging findings from Internal Audit
  • Consider the External Audit management letter for the previous year
  • Report on mid year review of strategic risk register and progress against Acas' risk agenda

The Winter meeting will:

  • Advise on the Internal Audit strategy and draft work plan for the coming year
  • Consider areas in which the Committee will particularly promote cooperation between auditors and other management reviews in the coming year eg H&S, DPA
  • Re-visit emerging findings from Internal Audit and review actions in response to the External Audit management letter for the previous year
  • Consider the Committee's own effectiveness in its work
  • Consider external audit strategy for the coming year

Standing agenda items

  • Minutes of last meeting
  • Matters Arising
  • Risk Report
  • Finance Update

Each meeting will review specific Internal Audit assignments which have been completed at each meeting.

This programme of work will be reviewed annually.