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India reviews iPhone factory for 'not hiring married women'

Reuters Job aspirants talk with a hiring agent outside the Foxconn factory, where workers assemble iPhones for Apple, in Sriperumbudur, near Chennai, India, April 1, 2024. REUTERS/Palani KumarReuters
Job aspirants speak to a hiring agent outside the Foxconn factory near Chennai

The Indian government has sought a detailed report from Tamil Nadu state following media reports that Apple supplier Foxconn was allegedly rejecting married women for iPhone assembly jobs.

A Reuters investigation alleged that Foxconn had excluded married women from jobs at its main India iPhone plant near Chennai, citing their greater family responsibilities compared to unmarried women.

The federal labour ministry says the law "clearly stipulates that no discrimination [is] to be made while recruiting men and women workers".

Foxconn said in a statement it "vigorously refutes allegations of employment discrimination based on marital status".

Neither Apple nor the Tamil Nadu state government responded to requests for comment from Reuters.

The BBC has also reached out to the Tamil Nadu labour department for a response.

Foxconn, the largest supplier of Apple iPhones, set up its first factory in Tamil Nadu in 2017 but has since been aggressively expanding its operations in India.

In 2023, it began assembling the iPhone 15 in the state and earlier this year, Foxconn tied up with Google to make Pixel smartphones in Tamil Nadu.

The company said it does not stand for discrimination in hiring or recruitment.

In a recent round of recruitment, 25% of women hired were married, according to the company.

It did acknowledge that 20 job ads posted by hiring agencies were removed in 2022 because they "did not meet our standards".

The discriminatory practices detailed in the Reuters investigation allegedly took place in 2023 and 2024.

"When we see an issue we act, including corrective action up to and including termination of the hiring agency," Foxconn added.

Rights activists say the reports about the firm's hiring practices in India are concerning, given that thousands look to its factories for employment opportunities.

Reuters said it spoke to numerous employees and Foxconn hiring agencies for the story.

The report said that hiring agents and Foxconn HR sources "cited family duties, pregnancy and higher absenteeism as reasons why Foxconn did not hire married women at the plant".

This is not the first time the firm has come under scrutiny for its labour practices.

In 2018, a US-based rights group had accused the firm of overworking and underpaying temporary workers at its factory in China that manufactured products for Amazon.

In 2022, its iPhone factory in China saw protests by workers who claimed that they had not been paid certain dues.


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