Workers who assemble iPhones and iPads often put in more
than 60 hours per week in violation of Chinese law,
according to the first independent labor audit of the
Chinese factories where Apple products are made.
An independent investigation by the Fair Labor
Association - a coalition of universities, non-profit
organizations and businesses committed to improving the
health, safety, fair treatment and respect of workers
worldwide - found significant issues with working
conditions at three factories in China operated by
Apple's major supplier Foxconn.
The nearly month-long investigation found excessive
overtime and problems with overtime compensation; several
health and safety risks; and crucial communication gaps
that have led to a widespread sense of unsafe working
conditions among workers.
However, Fair Labor Association added that it had
secured commitments that would reduce working hours to
legal limits while protecting pay, improve health and
safety conditions, establish a genuine voice for workers,
and would monitor on an ongoing basis to verify
"The Fair Labor Association gave Apple?s largest supplier
the equivalent of a full-body scan through 3,000 staff
hours investigating three of its factories and surveying
more than 35,000 workers. Apple and its supplier Foxconn
have agreed to our prescriptions, and we will verify
progress and report publicly," said Auret van Heerden,
President and CEO of the Fair Labor Association.
FLA's investigation found that within the last 12 months,
all three factories exceeded both the FLA Code standard
of 60 hours per week (regular plus overtime) and the
Chinese legal limits of 40 hours per week and 36 hours
maximum overtime per month. During peak production
periods, the average number of hours worked per week
exceeded 60 hours per worker. There were periods in which
some employees worked more than seven days in a row
without the required 24 hours off.
Foxconn has committed to bring its factories into full
compliance with Chinese legal limits and FLA standards on
working hours by July 2013, according to its remediation
plan in FLA's report.
More importantly, while employees will work fewer hours,
Foxconn has agreed to develop a compensation package that
protects workers from losing income due to reduced
overtime. In order to maintain capacity while reducing
workers? hours, Foxconn committed to increase its
workforce significantly as it builds additional housing
and canteen capacity.
FLA also discovered that 14 percent of workers may not
receive fair compensation for unscheduled overtime. The
assessment found that unscheduled overtime was only paid
in 30-minute increments. In addition, FLA secured
agreement from Foxconn and Apple to retroactively pay any
worker due unpaid overtime. The companies are currently
conducting an audit to determine the payments due to
According to FLA's worker survey, 64 percent of employees
say that compensation does not meet their basic needs.
FLA will conduct a cost of living study in Shenzhen and
Chengdu to assist Foxconn in determining whether worker
salaries meet FLA requirements for basic needs, as well
as discretionary income.
FLA observed other serious issues in areas such as health
and safety, worker integration and communication,
treatment of interns, and China's social security
enrollment, among others.
Until now, Foxconn only recorded accidents that resulted
in a production stoppage. Beginning immediately, Foxconn
committed to require supervisors and workers to report
all accidents resulting in an injury.
The assessment also found that the union at Foxconn is
dominated by management representatives and does not
provide true worker representation. In keeping with local
laws, Foxconn has agreed to ensure elections of worker
representatives without management interference.
FLA also secured agreement by Foxconn to find alternative
ways to address low enrollment in social security benefit
programs and to adapt its internship program to ensure
that interns enjoy the protections necessary for a
productive, healthy and safe educational experience.
"If implemented, these commitments will significantly
improve the lives of more than 1.2 million Foxconn
employees and set a new standard for Chinese factories,"
van Heerden said.
Apple CEO Tim Cook visited a Foxconn factory in
Zhengzhou, China, on Wednesday.
A full copy of the report is available at