Tracked weekly work
hours for over one million workers throughout our supply chain.
Drove our suppliers to achieve an average of 95 percent compliance with our standard maximum 60-hour workweek.
Launched a project to drive accountability for the vocational schools that place student interns in our supplier facilities.
Conducted 33 specialized audits at facilities employing migrant workers who may be at risk for unfair treatment.
Required suppliers to reimburse US$3.9 million in excess foreign contract worker fees.
Confirmed in January 2014 that all active, identified tantalum smelters in our supply chain were verified as conflict-free by third-party auditors.
Released a list of the smelters and refiners whose tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold we use so it’s clear which ones have been verified as conflict-free.
Workweeks exceeding 60 hours have been a persistent problem for the electronics industry, and reducing excessive overtime remains a priority for Apple. We limit workweeks to 60 hours except in unusual circumstances. And all overtime must be absolutely voluntary. To help protect the people who make our products from working excessive hours, we track work hours weekly for over one million people in our supply chain — a program we started in 2011.
While working hours can be difficult for Apple and our suppliers to predict, we require suppliers to notify us in advance when they anticipate that production plans might cause high working hours. That way, we can get ahead of problems and work with both the supplier and Apple’s procurement teams to find the best solutions.
As a result of Apple’s and our suppliers’ efforts, our suppliers achieved an average of 95 percent compliance across all workweeks in 2013. The average hours worked per week was under 50 for all employees. In 2013, we also tracked employees working at least 40 hours, and found they worked an average of 54 hours per week. Over 97 percent of all workweeks met our requirement of at least one day of rest every seven days.
We take extra measures to protect workers aged 16 to 18, student interns, and foreign contract workers. In 2013, we expanded our Prevention of Underage Labor Training and Student Worker Training programs, pulling them together under a single program we call Ethical Hiring. The new program includes tools and training to help our suppliers prevent these workers from being exploited.
In 2013, representatives from 64 suppliers — covering more than 240,000 workers — attended our Ethical Hiring training. This program offers instruction on human resources best practices like manpower planning and staffing, and it emphasizes ethical hiring and management of all classes of workers. The training focuses on the recruitment and management of student, dispatch, and juvenile workers; management of private employment agencies; and prevention and remediation of underage labor.
In countries where labor is in short supply, manufacturers commonly use elaborate networks of third-party brokers to help fill their factories. These labor agencies recruit contract workers from other countries. The agencies often use multiple subagencies, each of which may require the workers to pay fees in exchange for employment. This means many workers find they have taken on huge debt even before they start work. To pay off this debt, workers must hand over a high proportion of their wages to the recruiters and remain at the job until the debt is paid. We consider excessive recruitment fees — anything higher than the equivalent of one month’s net wages — a form of bonded labor, and these fees are strictly prohibited by our Supplier Code of Conduct.
Apple requires suppliers to reimburse excessive recruitment fees for any eligible contract worker found working on Apple projects. We strongly encourage our suppliers to uphold this same standard throughout the facility, even in areas with non-Apple workers. Since 2008, our suppliers have reimbursed a total of US$16.9 million to contract workers, including US$3.9 million in 2013. Because we know factories in certain countries are more likely to employ foreign contract labor, we target them for bonded labor audits and help them modify their management systems and practices to comply with our standards. We rarely find recurrences of bonded labor when we conduct follow-up audits, giving us confidence that the combination of strong policies and rigorous checks can make a difference in tackling this problem.
The ethical sourcing of minerals is an important part of our mission to ensure safe and fair working conditions for everyone in our supply chain. We were one of the first companies to survey our suppliers to identify the smelters they use and understand the potential entry points for conflict minerals. We are driving smelters and refiners to be compliant with the Conflict-Free Smelter Program (CFSP) or an equivalent third-party audit program. And rather than avoiding minerals from the DRC and neighboring countries entirely, we’re supporting verified supply lines and economic development in the region.
In January 2014, we confirmed that all active, identified tantalum smelters in Apple’s supply chain were validated as conflict-free by third-party auditors, and we will continue to require all suppliers to use only verified tantalum sources. We know supply chains fluctuate, and we’ll maintain ongoing monitoring of our suppliers’ smelters.
For tin, tungsten, and gold, the electronics industry uses a small percentage of these minerals. We believe the only way to impact the human rights abuses on the ground is to have a critical mass of smelters verified as conflict-free, so that demand for the mineral supply from questionable sources is affected. We are focused on expanding the verified smelter base rather than simply funneling our demand through a limited number of verified smelters or those that are not sourcing in the DRC. We are working directly with these smelters, and visiting many throughout the world, to encourage their participation in the CFSP. To drive accountability and help stakeholders follow our progress, we are publishing quarterly the names, countries, and CFSP participation status of the smelters and refiners in our supply chain. Download the PDF
In addition, we continue to work with NGOs, trade groups, government agencies, and others to keep up the pressure and drive real change. The in-region programs we support include the Conflict-Free Tin Initiative (CFTI), KEMET’s Partnership for Social and Economic Sustainability, Solutions for Hope, and the Public-Private Alliance (PPA).
Our work on ethical sourcing is not limited to Africa. A large percentage of the world’s tin — including tin in Apple products — comes from Bangka and Belitung Islands, Indonesia. After learning that some of the tin may contribute to environmental damage or pose risks to miners, Apple went to Indonesia to investigate and visited with key stakeholders, including officials from the government, NGOs, and the smelters. We have since worked with the EICC and IDH Sustainable Trade Initiative to develop the Indonesian Tin Working Group, whose goal is to explore how its members can help resolve the environmental and social challenges of tin mining on Bangka and Belitung Islands while also supporting the economic benefits of a robust mining trade. We will continue to work with the Indonesian Tin Working Group and our regional partners to address these concerns.