Fair Labor Association supplier audit reveals excessive overtime, Apple pledges to continue improvement

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As part of its partnership with Apple, the Fair Labor Association has conducted an independent audit of supplier Quanta, and discovered that the company's factories were responsible for some labor violations, including excessive overtime and hiring fees.

The FLA's assessments were published Friday, but actually represent data from visits conducted by the association a year ago, in August of 2013. The FLA visited Quanta facilities in Shanghai and Changshu, looking for potential instances of non-compliance with the association's Workplace Code of Conduct.

As of last year, Quanta employed 31,706 people on Apple production lines in Shanghai, and another 4,711 in Changshu. A total of 389 worker interviews were done in Shanghai and 132 in Changshu.

The FLA found that nearly two-thirds of workers at the Changshu facility received no mandatory rest day during the fourth quarter of 2012. Compliance with hours of work and industrial relations received the poorest scores at the Changshu facility, as ranked by the association.

The findings made by the FLA join Apple's own internal audits, of which 451 were conducted last year. Apple became the first technology company to join the FLA in early 2012, agreeing to allow the association to independently assess facilities in its supply chain and report detailed findings on the association's website.

The FLA's findings come with a series of recommendations that have been made to Apple to help improve compliance. Alongside the FLA's publication of its findings, the company released a statement to TechCrunch in which it revealed its own experts have audited these same sites 16 total times, most recently in July.

FLA findings from Quanta's Changshu facility.

"In the year since the FLA's visit, we have worked closely with Quanta to drive meaningful improvements in areas identified by both the FLA and Apple," the company said. "Apple conducted four follow-up inspections on top of the annual audits of both facilities, to ensure the needed corrections are in place."

Apple also acknowledged that excessive overtime hours have been an issue with Quanta, as the supplier averaged 86 percent compliance with its 60-hour workweek policy. That's lower than the overall 95 percent compliance level among all companies in Apple's 2014 Supplier Responsibility report.

"Excessive overtime is not in anyone's best interest, and we will continue to work closely with Quanta and our other suppliers to prevent it," Apple said.