For the past three years, Apple has provided public records of audit reports for its supply chain factories. This year, thanks to the efforts of increased training programs meant to teach workers and managers about human rights laws, the 2013 Supplier Responsibility Report shows a lot of improvements in Code of Conduct compliance.
In an effort to be more transparent with its overseas partners, Apple releases its Code of Conduct audits every year.
This year, the company ramped up audits by 72 percent to 393. Apple also joined the Fair Labor Association (FLA) in 2012, becoming the first tech company to open its supply chain to the human rights watchdog. The FLA conducted its own, large-scale independent audit covering approximately 178,000 workers.
One goal that Apple is working toward is worker empowerment. To help facilitate better communication, the company has implemented health and safety training programs, free onsite classes in labor laws and Supplier Code of Conduct, and more.
The overall Labor and Human Rights report showed that Anti-discrimination practices, bonded labor, special care for juvenile workers, and wages were still under performing, with special care for juvenile workers being the most violated code.
According to Apple’s report, the company allows suppliers to hire 16-year-old workers under the condition that they be offered free health examinations, are assigned to positions suitable to their age and size, and work hours that are appropriate to school-aged employees.
Through this year’s audits, Apple found 11 facilities with underage workers totally 106 cases. Because of Apple’s Underage Labor Remediation Program, suppliers were required to return the children to their families with financial compensation awarded to the families matching the wages they received while working. Apple also terminated its business with one supplier due to an egregious violation of underage employments. At one facility, 74 workers were found to be under the age of 16.
Considering Apple terminated its relationship with three suppliers last year and only one this year, it seems that the company’s efforts to education workers and implement health and safety programs is starting to have an effect. Many of the suppliers that Apple works with also produce parts for other large electronics companies.