In 2014, Apple executives became alarmed when China enacted a new labor law meant to protect workers’ rights. The law required that no more than 10% of a factory’s workforce be temporary workers. Typically these employees have fewer benefits and legal protections than permanent ones, but Apple’s suppliers increasingly relied on them in China’s tightening labor market.
Apple surveyed 362 of its supplier factories in China that year and discovered that nearly half were over the quota for temporary workers. Eighty factories used temporary workers for more than half their labor force, according to an internal Apple presentation reviewed by The Information. Apple asked its suppliers to come up with plans to reduce their use of temporary workers by a March 2016 deadline, when a two-year grace period for the law expired. However, by the time the law went into effect, little progress had been made.