Friday, May 28, 2010

iPhone Workers Contract Not to Kill Themselves

FoxNews reports that a tenth employee has jumped to his death at iPhone-manufacturer, Foxconn, in China. This has prompted an unconventional move: "The spate of suicides at its factories has reportedly prompted Foxconn to ask workers to promise not to kill themselves" and "agreeing to be sent to psychiatric institutions if they appear to be in an 'abnormal mental or physical state for the protection of myself and others.'"

Foxconn has also responded by training mental health advisors and installing 1.5 million square feet of netting. Not surprisingly, the deaths have apparently led Apple and some of Foxconn's other clients to investigate working conditions there. The article cites the company's secretive corporate culture and indicates that workers actually live inside the factory complex.

This is certainly a bizarre, and in at least ten cases tragic, story. I have worked on drafting employment contracts and employee handbooks, and thankfully I can assure you that the no-suicide clause is not very common.

Posted by Philip Miles, an employment lawyer with McQuaide Blasko in State College, Pennsylvania.