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Indian Govt Probes Foxconn Over Exclusion of Married Women from iPhone Assembly Jobs

Labour Ministry Cites Equal Remuneration Act to Ban Gender Discrimination in Hiring

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Staff Writer, TLR

Published on June 28, 2024, 12:59:28

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indian government probes foxconn

The Indian government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has intervened following a Reuters report that exposed Foxconn's practice of excluding married women from iPhone assembly jobs at its main plant in Tamil Nadu.

The Ministry of Labour and Employment has invoked the Equal Remuneration Act of 1976, which explicitly prohibits discrimination in hiring based on gender. In a statement, the ministry called for a detailed report from the Tamil Nadu Labour Department, the location of the iPhone factory in question.

Additionally, the ministry directed the Regional Chief Labour Commissioner to provide a factual report on the situation. Neither Apple nor Foxconn immediately responded to requests for comment on the government's statement. The Tamil Nadu state government also did not respond to Reuters' request for comment outside of regular office hours.

A Reuters investigation published earlier revealed that Foxconn systematically avoided hiring married women, citing reasons such as family responsibilities, pregnancy, and higher absenteeism compared to unmarried women. The Ministry of Labour noted these reports and emphasized the legal framework prohibiting such discriminatory practices.

In response to questions raised in the Reuters report, Apple and Foxconn acknowledged previous lapses in hiring practices in 2022 and stated that corrective actions had been taken. However, the discriminatory practices documented at the Sriperumbudur plant occurred in 2023 and 2024, for which Apple and Foxconn did not provide specific responses.

Apple clarified that they took immediate action in 2022 upon learning of concerns about hiring practices and had implemented monthly audits to ensure compliance with their standards across all suppliers, including Foxconn. Foxconn, on the other hand, strongly denied allegations of discrimination based on marital status, gender, religion, or any other grounds.

Legal experts cited by Reuters pointed out that while Indian law does not explicitly prohibit companies from discriminating in hiring based on marital status, both Apple and Foxconn have policies against such practices within their supply chains.

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