There is just one step up from child labor to student labor, and Hewlett-Packard wants to make sure it is as free of risk as possible in that area, which is why it has enacted a new policy in China.
Underage labor caused a big stir last year, when a Samsung supplier got accused
of using child labor and it was discovered that Foxconn employed underage workers as young as 14
HP hasn't been faced with anything so dramatic lately, but that mostly has to do with preventive measures.
One of those preventive measures has just been set in place: a policy that determines how its supplier factories from China are supposed to treat student labor.
Students have frequently complained that factory work has nothing to do with their education.
Vocational and high school students being drafted to perform manufacturing jobs has been coming under scrutiny more and more as well.
HP's new rule sheet stipulates that employment must “complement” the student's field of study, for one.
Secondly, the corporation wants all student work to be voluntary, meaning that they are free to leave at any time without repercussion.
Proper grievance mechanisms are being created as well, to reduce the likelihood of retaliation at the place of work.
The new policy was reported by The New York Times
and may or may not be mirrored by other IT players with Chinese suppliers.
A final mention should go to the limit imposed on student labor: even during peak demand periods, the limit is of 20% of the total workforce. It even intends to reduce that to 10% eventually.
Since for Foxconn, to name one company, student labor makes up just 2.7% of the total force during a year, following the last guidelines should be easy enough, though others may very well disagree, especially if their factories are near high schools or universities.