Apple's suppliers have achieved a new compliance mark for employee hours, according to the iPhone maker.
To shed light on how its suppliers are behaving, Apple launched its Supplier Responsibility page early last year. This page attempts to show how suppliers are faring with such issues as excessive overtime, underage workers, and other violations of Apple's Supplier Code of Conduct.
Compliance with the 60-hour work week limit varied throughout 2012. But in January, the rate reached a record of 99 percent, Apple revealed yesterday on the Supplier Responsibility page
The number of workers we track has increased from over 500,000 in January 2012 to over 1 million in January 2013. In January 2013, we achieved 99 percent compliance to the 60-hour work week across all employees we track.
Apple's Supplier Code of Conduct limits employees to a 60-hour work week except in "unusual circumstances." Further, any overtime hours must be voluntary. The company conceded that suppliers continually violated this policy in the past. So in 2011, Apple started tracking the number of weekly work hours at specific suppliers. Any violations discovered were brought to the attention of each individual supplier.
For 2012 as a whole Apple suppliers achieved a 92 percent compliance rate with the policy, with the average number of working hours per week less than 50.
How have Apple's suppliers fared in other areas?
The company say it found no instances of underage labor at any of its final assembly suppliers last year, though it continues to conduct regular audits. Apple did acknowledge a violation at one supplier in January 2012. A third-party labor provider was recruiting younger workers to Guangdong Real Faith Pingzhou Electronics. After finding 74 workers under the age 16, Apple cut off its business relationship with that supplier.
Despite Apple's efforts to crack down on these labor violations, some watchdog groups say the company needs to do more.
The Student & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) issued a report last month accusing three of Apple's Chinese suppliers of poor worker conditions.
SACOM said that the three suppliers -- Foxlink, Pegatron, and Wintek -- do not provide for basic human needs and continue to employ student workers.
The watchdog group also criticized Apple for shirking its responsibility to monitor its Chinese suppliers and said that violations have actually risen due in part to increased demand for Apple products.