Apple Inc. has banned bonded labor from its factories and requires suppliers to pay for the cost of hiring new employees.
The move followed an audit of factories that make Apple products after criticism of working conditions there, BBC News reported Friday.
The company said new recruits should not be made to pay any hiring fees.
The bonded labor practice came to light after labor rights group China Labor Watch (CLW) questioned the low wages of some Apple employees.
Apple told is suppliers in October about the ban on bonded servitude from the beginning of this year.
“Fees must be paid by the supplier and Apple ultimately bears these costs when we pay the supplier. We’re OK with that,” said Jeff Williams, Apple senior vice-president of operations.
Bonded labor requires new workers to pay a fee, sometimes equivalent to a month’s salary or more, for being introduced to a factory, typically by third-party recruiters.
It means many employees will begin work in debt. Some have their passports confiscated, the report said.
A BBC investigation last year highlighted the poor treatment of workers in Chinese factories.
Undercover filming at one of Apple’s factories, Pegatron, showed new recruits handing over ID cards in breach of Apple’s standards.
Apple, which declined to be interviewed for the investigation, denied the allegations of poor working conditions and long hours and said it was deeply offended by them.
On the same day that Apple published its audit, CLW released a report saying the company was unable to effectively monitor standards in some of its supply chain, allowing companies such as Pegatron to keep base wages below local living expenses.
CLW based its findings on 96 pay stubs submitted by an unknown number of employees.
It suggested that low pay compelled workers to put in more hours.
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