Foxconn, the Chinese manufacturer that builds electronics for Apple, HP and Dell, has admitted to hiring underage interns.
An internal investigation at its Yantai factory complex in Shandong Province found that some interns were 14 to 16 years old. The legal working age in China is 16.
"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 education institutions," Foxconn said in a statement. "We are also carrying out a full investigation, in cooperation with respective educational institutions, to determine how this happened and the actions that must be taken by our company to ensure that it can never happen again."
Foxconn has been a magnet for criticism since a series of media reports in the United States exposed harsh working conditions and the company. Under increased pressure from clients like Apple, the company has been quick to respond to the negative reports.
China Labor Watch, an independent nonprofit monitoring workers' rights in China, issued a statement criticizing Foxconn for allowing children to permeate into the working system without proper identification checks.
"These underage interns were mainly sent to Foxconn by schools, but Foxconn did not check the IDs of these young interns," the group said in the statement. "The schools involved in this incident should take primary responsible [sic], but Foxconn is also culpable for not confirming ages of their workers."