A Taiwanese company that makes iPads and iPhones, among other products, has admitted employing children as young as 14 at a factory in the city of Yantai in eastern China. But it did not say the minors actually worked on any Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) products.
"We recognise that full responsibility for these violations rests with our company, and we have apologized to each of the students for our role in this action," Foxconn International Holdings Ltd. (HKG :2038), owned by Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd., said in a statement.
"Our investigation has shown that the interns in question, who ranged in age from 14 to 16, had worked in that campus for approximately three weeks. This is not only a violation of China's labor law, it is also a violation of Foxconn policy, and immediate steps have been taken to return the interns in question to their educational institutions."
Any Foxconn employee found, "through our investigation, to be responsible for these violations will have their employment immediately terminated," said the company, which makes a broad range of electronic products for various companies. One of those companies is Apple Inc., which uses Foxconn to make its iPhone 5 and iPad products.
The hiring of child workers was discovered with the help of an internal investigation after Chinese media reports and a U.S.-based campaign group called China Labor Watch wrote about the underage employees.