HP is laying down new rules for its supplier factories in China around how it can use student labor, reports The New York Times. The practice of employing vocational and high school students to do manufacturing jobs has come under increasing scrutiny, and while Apple recently began requiring student employee data from suppliers so that it could track the issue more closely, HP is going a step further. It’s requiring that all student work be voluntary, and that student employees be free to leave at any time, free from negative repercussions. The company is also mandating proper grievance mechanisms that guarantee against retaliation in the workplace.
In response to frequent complaints from students that factory work has nothing to do with their education, the computer maker is also requiring that employment "must complement" the student’s field of study. As well, HP is capping student labor at no more than 20 percent during periods of peak demand, with plans to bring that down to 10, but the company hasn’t yet decided when to enact the stiffer limit. In comparison, Foxconn, a supplier of both Apple and HP products, stated that on average students only make up 2.7 percent of its work force during the year.