Many may not know that Apple regularly performs Supplier Responsibility audits to ensure that their suppliers are meeting or exceeding Apple’s requirements. Apple has released their findings for 2010.

Apple focuses on several key areas in their audits. One of these is recruitment fees. Recruitment fees are not unknown, and are commonly called finder’s fees. These fees sometimes required several months wages in order for a potential employee to be hired. Apple does not tolerate excessive fees.

One thing to note is that Apple audited 100% of their Taiwanese suppliers, which totals twenty facilitie, as well as eight facilities in Malaysia and Singapore.

Another area that Apple actively audits is underage workers. As stated within the report, “Apple does not tolerate any instance of underage labor.” This is a requirement that all companies should meet. For 2010, there were 60 active cases of underage laborers. Not to take this out of context, but 60 cases out of the thousands upon thousands of workers that are employed to assemble Apple products is a very small percentage, but the number should be zero regardless.

To rectify this issue, Apple has required facilities to implement policies and procedures that will prevent the employment of underage workers. On top of that, the facilities are required to enforce these requirements with third-party recruiters.

To show that Apple is serious about this requirement, there was one of ten facilities that had hired 42 underage laborers. Through the audit Apple had determined that the facilities management had chosen to overlook the problem and was not convinced that this behavior would change. The result is that Apple terminated business with the facility. Furthermore, the vocational school that was the source of the underage laborers was reported to the appropriate authorities within the Chinese government because the school threatened retaliation against students who revealed their true ages during Apple’s audits.

The last major audit area is “Core Violations.”  This includes abuse, underage labor, involuntary falsification of audited materials, worker endangerment, intimation or retaliation against workers, and significant threats to the environment.

Out of the 127 facilities that were audited, 37 had core violations, 18 facilities had violations regarding excessive recruitment fees, 10 facilities were found to have underage workers, two facilities had violations regarding worker endangerment, four facilities falsified documents, and there was one case of bribery and one case of “coaching” workers on answering the auditors’ questions.

Of these, there were three cases where management failed to show a serious commitment to rectifying the violations. In all three of these cases Apple terminated business with the companies. One of the facilities where information was falsified was a repeat falsification, and business was terminated with the facility.

Apple is doing well in terms of disclosing how their suppliers are doing maintaining worker health and safe working conditions. Many of Apple’s suppliers, as possibly expected, have failed in several areas. Apple has a long way to go but they have gone a long way towards keeping their suppliers in compliance and providing good working conditions.

Article Via ZDNet