Apple Acknowledges 'Illegal Overtime' Employment of HS Students

Apple Acknowledges 'Illegal Overtime' Employment of HS Students

Apple and its supplier Foxconn found that students worked overtime illegally to build the iPhone X, according to a report by the Financial Times.

Student labor is common in China, but workers must be paid, their positions must be voluntary, and they can not exceed working 40 hours a week.

Six Chinese high school students say they were forced to work 11 hour days at a factory in Zhengzhou as part of a three-month work experience program. The students were reportedly told that their three-month time at the facility was required "work experience" that was needed for them to graduate.

"We are being forced by our school to work here", Ms. Yang, an 18-year-old student who declined to use her first name for fear of reprisal, told FT.

Apple said an audit has turned up "instances of student interns working overtime at a supplier facility in China", adding "we've confirmed the students worked voluntarily, were compensated and provided benefits, but they should not have been allowed to work overtime".

Foxconn also admitted it allowed the students to work beyond the maximum regulated hours.

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"This work has nothing to do with our studies".

Foxconn and Apple have come under scrutiny for conditions and circumstances of labor in China before.

Foxconn noted that its policies prohibit interns from working more than 40 hours per week, however the iPhone-builder acknowledged the policy violation and said it's working with Apple to ensure history doesn't repeat itself. "From Apple's actions, it seems like they don't care about the labor standards they set previously", said Li Qiang, founder of New York-based advocacy group China Labor Watch, which monitors working conditions in Apple's supply chain. "They could have stopped these students working night shifts and long hours sooner, but they didn't do that".

An Apple representative told Quartz that the Financial Times' reporting is inaccurate and noted that the students participate in the internship voluntarily. According to those reports, the company and its production partners were struggling to keep up with their shipment goals on the phone. Today, the Financial Times reports that illegal labour practices persist.

The illegal overtime problems are also nothing new.

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