Apple has published a report into the working conditions at the factories where its iPods are assembled.

The company writes: “We were concerned by reports in the press a few weeks ago alleging poor working and living conditions at a manufacturing facility in China where iPods are assembled. In response to the allegations, we immediately dispatched an audit team comprised of members from our human resources, legal and operations groups to carry out a thorough investigation of the conditions at the manufacturing site. The audit covered the areas of labour standards, working and living environment, compensation, overtime and worker treatment.”

Apple spent “1200 person-hours and covered over one million square feet of facilities”, speaking to a number of workers at the factories, visiting and inspected factory floors, dormitories, dining halls and recreation areas.

“We found the supplier to be in compliance in the majority of the areas audited. However, we did find violations to our Code of Conduct, as well as other areas for improvement that we are working with the supplier to address,” says the company.

Apple admits that it was not satisfied with the living conditions of three of the off-site leased dorms. “These buildings were converted by the supplier during a period of rapid growth and have served as interim housing,” explains Apple. “Two of the dormitories, originally built as factories, now contain a large number of beds and lockers in an open space, and from our perspective, felt too impersonal. The third contained triple-bunks, which in our opinion didn’t provide reasonable personal space.”

“To address this interim housing situation, the supplier acquired additional land and is currently building new dormitories,” adds the company.

The investigation also confirmed that “all workers earn at least the local minimum wage, and our sample audit of payroll records showed that more than half were earning above minimum wage.”

Apple did find the pay structure to be unnecessarily complex. “This structure effectively failed to meet our Code of Conduct requirement that how workers are paid must be clearly conveyed.” Apple has requested that this situation changes.

The investigation found no instances of forced overtime, claims Apple. “Employees confirmed in interviews that they could decline overtime requests without penalty. We did, however, find that employees worked longer hours than permitted by our Code of Conduct.”

Apple limits normal workweeks to 60 hours and requires at least one day off each week. At the factories it was found that the weekly limit was exceeded 35 per cent of the time and employees worked more than six consecutive days 25 per cent of the time.

Apple also asked every line worker whether they had ever been subjected to or witnessed objectionable disciplinary punishment. “Two employees reported that they had been disciplined by being made to stand at attention. While we did not find this practice to be widespread, Apple has a zero tolerance policy for any instance, isolated or not, of any treatment of workers that could be interpreted as harsh. The supplier has launched an aggressive manager and employee training program to ensure such behaviour does not occur in the future.”

“Apple is committed to the highest standard of social responsibility in everything we do and will always take necessary action accordingly. We are dedicated to ensuring that working conditions are safe and employees are treated with respect and dignity wherever Apple products are made,” concludes the report.