Apple released its annual Supplier Responsibility Report on Wednesday. The report covered a wide range of issues, including employee overtime, the environment, and new rules for factories that wish to be a part of the Apple supply chain.
Apple has laid down new rules for suppliers covering recruitment fees, which have long been a sore sport for the company. Apple’s new rules bar firms from charging such “recruitment fees” to employees, as they can quickly add up to a significant amount out of a worker’s yearly pay.
Apple had previously allowed factories and recruitment agencies to charge up to one month’s fee, requiring any excess amount to be paid back to the worker. The report says Apple’s manufacturing partners repaid $3.96 million to workers last year, up slightly from the $3.9 million suppliers paid in 2013.
“That fee needs to be paid by the supplier and Apple ultimately bears that fee when we pay the supplier and we’re OK doing that,” Apple operations chief Jeff Williams told Bloomberg. “We just don’t want the worker to absorb that.”
He noted that some Apple partners balked at repaying the fees themselves, but Apple would not back down on the issue.
Apple also reported on worker’s shift hours, another sore spot for Apple. The company reported that, on average, in 2014, 92 percent of workers at Apple’s manufacturing partners were now at or below the 60-hour working hour cap Apple placed on suppliers. That is down slightly from 95% in 2013.
Apple’s free of charge Supplier Employee Education and Development program, which provides educational facilities for factory workers, now has 48 classrooms at 23 factories. Around 379,000 employees took advantage of the program in 2014.
Apple also reported that it has made progress in its fight against conflict materials. Of the 225 smelters which supply the company with products containing gold, tantalum, tin or tungsten, 135 have been audited and found not to use any materials from war zones.
The company reports an additional 64 smelters have agreed to allow audits, with just 26 new smelters who have not yet agreed to an audit.
“Unfortunately, even after extensive encouragement, there were four smelters that were unwilling to commit to be audited by a third party, so Apple put these smelters on notice that they will be removed from our supply chain.”
In the environmental arena, Apple reported that its Clean Water Program had been expanded to cover 50 percent of the total water withdrawal for its top 200 suppliers.
For more information, you can view Apple’s 2015 Supplier Responsibility Report at the Apple website.