HP lays down law on student labour

13 February 2013

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13 February 2013 | Adam Leach

HP is cracking down on Chinese suppliers to prevent any exploitation of students for cheap labour.

The company has warned its Chinese vendors not to reduce permanent staff numbers by increasing the number of student and temporary workers in guidance issued this week.

In response to concerns over the use of student, voluntary and temporary workers in the country, the technology firm has issued suppliers with operations in China new guidance on what is acceptable. The company has specified that “all work must be voluntary”, that local regulations must be “reinforced or exceeded”, that the number of student workers at a company does not exceed the number of full-time workers, and that any work done by students “complements their primary area of study”.

Sanna Johnson, executive director at the Center for Child Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility, said: “Student and temporary workers are two very vulnerable groups within the Chinese workforce. They are often entering the workplace with limited experience and support. These guidelines are a clear recognition of HP’s commitment to see its workforce as both a resource of today and tomorrow.”

HP said that in addition to toughening up its guidelines for suppliers in China, it will collect performance data on a more frequent basis and use this to track supplier performance against expectations and to address other issues, such as excessive working hours. The company’s supply chain spans more than 1,000 production suppliers, based in more than 45 countries.

Last month, Apple announced it is currently taking action to tackle child labour in its supply chain. It reported that incidents of child labour had been found at 11 of its supplier factories.

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