PSA welcomes Inland Revenue’s halt to psychometric testing

The Public Service Association welcomes Inland Revenue’s sensible decision to suspend the use of psychometric testing as part of its controversial Business Transformation restructure following a legal challenge on behalf of PSA members, but cautions that significant issues remain with the restructure while a decision is awaited from the Employment Court.

"We’re pleased that Inland Revenue has finally seen sense and agreed to wait until the Court has decided on the lawfulness of using psychometric testing on current employees during their restructure, and we consider this a backdown from their insistence on testing all staff reapplying for roles in this group," says Erin Polaczuk, PSA national secretary.

The PSA has proceedings filed in the Employment Court seeking determinations that the requirement to undergo these assessments is unlawful. The latest IR position - that staff refusing the tests could face non-appointment as a result - has also been challenged by the PSA. 

The PSA had informed IR that it would seek an interim injunction prohibiting IR from taking into account the results of any psychometric assessment in this part of the current appointment process, or from taking into account the absence of such an assessment, or whether a worker had been tested, not been tested, or had refused to be tested. In light of this pressure, IR has backed down for now.

"Today’s decision reaffirms that the collective voice of workers can and should have a significant say in matters that directly affect their roles," says Ms Polaczuk.

"IR have consistently sought to downplay internal objection to their Business Transformation process, and that has been very distressing and frustrating for experienced staff."

By agreement, both parties approached the Court to seek a "consent order" of the Court in prohibiting the use of the tests in the selection process on the basis outlined above. That order was issued today, and will continue in force until the substantive trial has taken place and a judgment issued, which may well be next year. The PSA is confident that the judgment will ban the testing altogether.

A consent order is a formal Court order made by the Court at the request of the parties. The order also restrains IR from dismissing anyone in full or part reliance on such testing; or on the fact that a worker has taken, not taken, or failed or refused to take a test.