Ever since Foxconn became Apple’s main manufacturer of the iPhone, the Chinese company has become the focus of many human rights and worker’s rights organizations around the world. Through Apple, the company has become one of the most closely watched manufacturing operations in the world.
Largely due to poor past inspections of its working conditions, Foxconn has raised worker pay and cut mandatory hours on multiple occasions. The company still battles employee rights issues, such as riots and the widely reported suicides at its sprawling, city-like manufacturing facilities.
The most well-known and damning allegations against the company, however, involve the hiring of underage workers. In late 2012, the organization China Labor Watch released a report showing that a “small number” of 14 to 16 year olds interned at Foxconn during the summer. The company admitted to hiring these workers, though it claims this was a mistake, as many young Chinese workers are desperate enough for work to falsify their age.
Now, Foxconn has raised the age requirements for hiring at its Zhengzhou manufacturing facility, where many past violations have been found. According to a DigiTimes report, the age requirements for recruitment have been raised from 18-40 to 23-40.
The report cites two possible reasons for the shift in policy. One is that the move brings the company’s hiring in-line with local government labor policies. The other is that the shift could be part of Foxconn’s plan to move toward greater automation in its manufacturing.