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Apple Increases Its Number of Supplier Responsibility Audits

Apple Inc. has increased its number of supplier responsibility audits by more than 80 percent in 2011.
Apple Inc. reported that it conducted 229 supplier responsibility audits in 2011 and found violations to its supplier code of conduct including incidents of child labor, long working hours, and delayed payment of wages to supplier employees.

The 229 audits totaled an 80 percent increase over the number of audits it conducted in 2010. Apple conducted 229 supplier responsibility audits in 2009 and 2010 combined. The increase in the number of audits comes after labor and safety issues at some of Apple’s suppliers in recent years.

Last year two workers at Foxconn, which assembles many of Apple's products, were killed in explosion at one of Foxconn's facilities. In 2010, 14 Foxconn employees committed suicide at another facility.

Apple noted more than 100 of the audits in 2011 occurred at facilities that had not been audited before. Facilities where repeat audits occur consistently show fewer violations, and the vast majority improve their audit scores year over year, according to the company.

Apple indicated its supplier responsibility audits revealed 93 facilities which had records that showed more than fifty percent of workers exceeded weekly working hour limits of 60 hours. Fifty percent of workers at 93 facilities had worked more than six consecutive days at least once per month. Apple's code of conduct sets a maximum of 60 hours per week and requires at least one day of rest per seven days of work.

In response to the violations, Apple began tracking working hours at those facilities and required suppliers to make changes to their work shifts, the company reported.

Audits identified six cases of underage labor at five supplier facilities. In each case, the facility had insufficient controls to verify the age of workers. Apple indicated that there were no instances of intentional hiring of children.

The company stated it required the suppliers to support the children's return to school and to improve management systems, labor recruitment practices, and age verification procedures.

Supplier responsibility audits also discovered 42 supplier facilities had payment practice violations including instances where employee payments were delayed and pay slips were not issued. The company required suppliers to pay workers promptly in accordance with laws and regulations and issue pay slips.

Apple reported that it terminated business with one supplier for repeat offenses. It also discovered foreign contract employee workers at 15 different facilities had paid excessive recruiting recruitment fees to labor agencies. Apple stated that it required the suppliers to reimburse workers any fees that exceed Apple's limits. In 2011, $3.3 million was reimbursed to workers bringing the total has been repaid to workers since 2008 to $6.7 million.