• Posted on: 12/07/2020
  • 4 minutes to read

PSA members have for years challenged the inappropriate use of psychometric assessment by employers, and we are pleased to announce new guidelines will protect workers from discrimination and bias caused by these tests.

A working group comprised of the PSA and the State Services Commission has agreed on new rules rules that require agencies to demonstrate their assessment practices are free from bias or discrimination before use.

Data will have to be provided before tests are used, proving the tests are reliable and based on New Zealand’s local cultural norms and demographics.

Any use of psychometric testing must now comply with the Gender Pay Principles, and with the principles and obligations that come with genuine partnership under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

The new guidelines reassert the responsibility of employers to meaningfully comply with the State Sector Act 1988, the Human Rights Act 1993 and the Privacy Act 1993.

This means a commitment to ensure any use of psychometric assessment does not undermine the impartial selection of suitably qualified persons for appointment, does not discriminate against workers on the basis of grounds such as race, sex, age or disability, and does not lead to personal data being misused or inappropriately withheld.


The purpose of this document is to provide information for agencies on psychometric assessment. Click the link below to view a PDF version of the guidelines. 

Psychometric assessment: legal considerations and principles (July 2020)

Psychometric Assessment Guidance & FAQ (July 2020)

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does this apply to all psychometric testing?

A:  These principles apply to psychometric testing that is undertaken in relation to recruitment and selection, change, capability assessment, individual development and similar processes.


Q: Should I review all the psychometric testing undertaken by my agency?

A: We recommend that you review the psychometric testing practises at your agency to ensure that human resource practices are in-line with legal and ethical expectations. Having in place a review process will help to ensure that your agency practice is demonstrably free from discrimination, and any mitigations are in place.


Q: How will we demonstrate that the psychometric tests are free from bias and discrimination?

A: We advise requiring testing providers to demonstrate that the tests proposed are free from bias and discrimination by providing evidence of validity and reliability across the New Zealand population, including by gender and ethnicity. Ensuring that the tests used are relevant and fit for purpose in the New Zealand context to ensure that Māori, Pacific and other peoples are not discriminated against.


Q: What are my alternatives if the testing is discriminatory?

A: You are unable to use psychometric testing that is discriminatory. We advise looking at your recruitment process to ensure that the process you have in place is free from bias and discrimination. There are alternative recruitment practises such as interviews and group assessments you could explore. See the recruitment Guidance developed for implementing the Gender Pay Principles here.


Q: Should we be trained in administering and giving feedback in regard to psychometric tests?

A: It is really important that if you are administrating and giving feedback on psychometric tests that you are trained and qualified to do this. We would also encourage you to read the Code of Ethics from the New Zealand Psychologist Board should you need more information.


Q: Why aren’t we given advice about which tests to use or not to use?

A: There are a vast number of tests available and it’s the individual agency decision on which tests to use. It’s important when using a test that you adhere to the principles outlined in the guidance.


Q: Does this guidance cover the recruitment of contracted or temporary workers?

A: All agencies should review all processes including those where an agency uses a recruitment agency to engage contracted or temporary workers to ensure they are non-discriminatory and avoid bias.


Q: What if a provider has a different policy around privacy?

A: Any provider must comply with the Privacy Act so you may need to ask the provider to modify their privacy policy or it may be necessary to use another compliant provider.


Q: Where can I find more information about bias, particularly in regard to gender in recruitment and other HR practises?

A: Research shows that compounding effects (gender, race) add to the likelihood of potential discrimination. Therefore, we should be particularly mindful that women and Pasifika for example are more likely to be discriminated against. This is something to be cognisant of when looking at where bias and discrimination may occur in your HR practices.

You should use mechanisms to eliminate bias and discrimination as listed in the guidance. This includes but is not limited to ensuring that team members involved in all recruitment processes have undertaken conscious and unconscious bias training. There is further information in the guidance published through the Gender Pay Taskforce – available on the SSC website here.


Q: Does this mean our agency is able to use Psychometric testing?

A: We advise you in all cases to use a multi method approach when assessing an employee or potential employee. There should be a suite of evidence to draw on when assessing for selection, capability and development. You should also be following the SSC guidelines, ensuring that all HR practices are non-discriminatory.

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