HP will conduct more frequent checks on labor conditions at its suppliers
The new standards are among the most stringent in the industry. Suppliers will be expected to comply immediately, and will be subjected to more frequent audits, the PC and printer maker said Friday.
It is common practice in many parts of China for underage workers, often recruited by agencies, to work in factories under the guise of internships or temporary assignments.
Documents are frequently forged, and underage workers are not permitted to leave factories of their own accord. In many cases, students are put to work to accommodate short-term production increases.
HP's new rules stipulate that all labor must be voluntary. Students employed by suppliers must be able to leave at any time, and will only be able to work for a limited term in a discipline associated with their primary area of study. The number of student workers will be limited, and all government regulations regarding legal working ages must be followed.
"We have worked closely with leading Chinese stakeholders to develop our new student and temporary worker guidelines to ensure the highest standards of ethical workforce management," said Tony Prophet, an HP executive and supply chain manager.
HP's announcement comes after Apple last year entered a partnership with the Fair Labor Association, an independent labor-rights organization that has conducted inspections of working conditions at factories in China.
Both HP and Apple (Fortune 500), along with , Intel (Fortune 500), , Microsoft (Fortune 500) and , Cisco (Fortune 500), have contracts with Foxconn, a Taiwan-based supplier that has come under fire for harsh labor conditions at its Chinese plants. ,