The A-Z Pre-Employment Guide for employers & employees

P. 

PAID PARENTAL LEAVE 

Q. Should I ask about paid parental leave at my job interview?

A. You're entitled to ask about paid parental leave. This is a 16-week period available to employees who, by the time the baby is born, have worked for at least six months for the same employer.

This provision also applies to employees who adopt a child aged up to five years. Other eligibility requirements are set out in the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987.

See also: Pregnancy; Babies and childcare

PARTNER, SPOUSE, OR RELATIVES

Q. Can I be asked whether I have a partner, spouse or relative working with the organisation or with a competitor of the organisation?

A. Yes.

An employer can ask whether you are married to; or in a civil union or de facto relationship with; or a relative of anyone who works at that workplace or elsewhere in the same industry. The Act permits employers to impose restrictions if any of the situations set out above apply and there is either a reporting relationship between the two positions or a risk the employees could collude in a way that would be detrimental to the employer.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Q. Can an employer ask me to provide a current photograph of myself as part of my application?

A. Nothing in the Act prevents an employer from asking for a photo.

However, a photo should not be used to look for particular characteristics to avoid interviewing a job applicant because of, for example, sex, age, ethnicity or any other prohibited ground of discrimination.

POLICE VETTING

Q. Can an employer require me to undergo police vetting as part of the job application process?

A. Some jobs involving caring for children, older people or more vulnerable members of society might require you to be vetted by the Police.

This is not a criminal record check. The information provided by the Police may be different to that provided by a criminal record check. For more information visit: www.police.govt.nz

Any concerns you may have about the accuracy of the information supplied by the Police should initially be taken up with the Police vetting service.

See also: Criminal record 

POLITICAL OPINION

Q.Can an employer ask applicants about their political opinions?

A. No, an employer should avoid asking about a job applicant’s political views or membership of political organisations. Political opinion discrimination is prohibited by the Act.


Q. Do I have to disclose in a job interview that I’m a member of a political party?

A. No, usually you don't have to disclose that you're a member of a political party.

However, if you are seeking employment as:

  • a political adviser or secretary to a member of Parliament
  • a political adviser to a member of a local authority
  • a political adviser to a candidate seeking election to the House of Representatives or to a local authority
  • a member of the staff of a political party

the Act allows the employer to ask questions about political opinions. Unless one of the above exceptions applies, a job applicant is not required to disclose that they're a member of a political party.

PREGNANCY

Q. Do I need to reveal at my job interview that I am pregnant?

A. No, an employer cannot refuse you employment because you're pregnant.

A job applicant should be made aware of the requirements of the job. All job applicants should be asked about any medical or physical conditions that might affect their ability to carry out the work satisfactorily.

If the job involves exposure to chemicals or hazardous substances known to be harmful to pregnant women the Act allows an employer to point this out, either on the application form or during the interview.

In these circumstances it would be wise for a pregnant applicant to make the employer aware of her pregnancy.

Overseas case law suggests that it is unlawful for an employer to decide in advance not to employ women of child-bearing age because of a hazardous working environment.

The job applicant should be informed of the risks and be free to decide whether to accept any offer of employment that might be made.

However, if an employer subsequently becomes aware of an employee’s pregnancy, they may have to temporarily transfer the employee to a different job because of health and safety legislation requirements that protect all employees’ health.

See also: Paid parental leave 


Q. Can I ask an employer what arrangements can be made for me to breastfeed my baby at work?

A. Yes. Many women now return to work relatively soon after having children and good employers do their best to provide them with the privacy and facilities required for breastfeeding.

New Zealand currently does not have any set minimum standards for breastfeeding breaks and facilities at work. Under the Employment Relations Act employers must provide unpaid time and facilities for breastfeeding employees as long as it is reasonable and practical to do so.

The Human Rights Commission considers the right to breastfeed at work and in public life is part of the right to be free from discrimination under the Act on the grounds of sex.

The Employment Relations Act also contains anti-discrimination provisions that apply to breastfeeding women. However, breastfeeding is not identified in the anti-discrimination legislation whereas “sex, which includes pregnancy and childbirth” is. You can read 'Your Rights as a Breastfeeding Mother' for more information. 

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has produced 'Breastfeeding in the Workplace: an employer’s guide to making it work', which is available at: www. employment.govt.nz/publications.

PRIVACY

Q. Can an employer ask previous employers for information about a job applicant?

A. In most circumstances personal information should be collected directly from the applicant unless the applicant gives permission to do otherwise.

Generally, an employer should not seek information about a job applicant from a current or former employer without the job applicant's consent.


Q. How long should an employer hold the Curriculum Vitae (CV) of an unsuccessful applicant?

A. It's a good idea for the employer and the job applicant to agree on how long the CV will be kept before it's destroyed.

Sometimes this can be overlooked, so it's good for an employer to establish a standard set of procedures dealing with how long CVs will be retained. It's acceptable to keep CVs for a reasonable period before either returning or destroying the CVs of the unsuccessful applicants.


Q. If I'm an unsuccessful applicant can I ask for my CV to be returned and for all information about me to be destroyed?

A. Yes.

Be aware that an employer can use information about unsuccessful job applicants if someone complains about the decision on who was employed. Unsuccessful candidates' CVs may be kept on file in case other vacancies arise, but the employer and job applicants should agree on this during pre-employment processes.

See also: Unsuccessful application


Q. Can an applicant have access to their information collected by an employer during the recruitment process?

A. Yes. However, under the Privacy Act there are some reasons for withholding material, for example when a reference has been supplied in confidence.

If a request for information is refused, the applicant can ask the Privacy Commissioner to investigate whether or not the refusal was justified. The Privacy Commissioner can be contacted by phone on 0800 803 909 or by email: [email protected]