Tests and checks

Employers can use tests and checks both before and during employment. Checks can include criminal or credit history, and drug and alcohol testing, but must be relevant to the job and/or workplace.

Criminal record checks

If you’re offering someone a job, you can do a criminal record check on the person. If they agree in writing to this, you can request their relevant criminal history from the Ministry of Justice or get New Zealand Police vetting information. 

Ministry of Justice - Criminal record check(external link)

If they have a criminal record, they do not have to offer information about previous criminal convictions if you’ve not asked them to. But if you ask whether they have any previous convictions, they should act in good faith and tell the truth – especially if the convictions are likely to influence your decision about hiring them. Convictions involving violence or dishonesty will almost always influence your decision.  

They do not have to disclose convictions that are covered by the clean slate rules. 

Hiring an employee subject to checks 

If you want to do a criminal record check, you can give the employee the job but say that it is subject to getting the information back from the Ministry of Justice or Police about criminal convictions. It should say in the letter of offer that the job is subject to this condition.  

You should make sure that any application forms clearly state that applicants must disclose all criminal convictions unless covered by the Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004. You will need to get the candidate’s written approval to get this information from the New Zealand Police or the Ministry of Justice.  

If an employee provides false information, you should talk to them about this, but you could use the clause in the letter of offer or employment agreement to back out of giving the job.  

Instead of making the offer of employment subject to checks, you can wait until the checks are completed before making an offer of employment to the person. 

Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004(external link)

Previous names for pre-employment checks

Sometimes an applicant will be asked to provide any previous names to enable a thorough criminal or credit check. These details can only be: 

  • used for a proper purpose – for example, for background checks that the position needs
  • asked if all applicants are being asked.

An employer cannot ask an applicant to give their previous name details if this is not for a lawful purpose – for example, they are trying to work out whether the person is a transgender person. 

Discrimination against transgender people

Fair process

If an existing employee is convicted of a crime

If an employee is convicted of a crime, depending on the circumstances, you may take disciplinary action against the employee or dismiss the person from the job. This would usually be done for reasons such as bringing you into disrepute or being against a code of conduct requiring ethical or professional behaviour even outside of work.  

Disciplinary process

Clean slate rules 

The Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004 means that some people do not have to reveal their criminal record. Candidates for a job do not have to apply for this, it happens automatically.  

If they meet the clean slate requirements, you can ask for a copy of their criminal record history. Their record will not show minor convictions that did not result in a prison sentence if the convictions are 7 years or older.  

Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004(external link)

Credit checks

You can do a credit check of an applicant only if there is a significant financial risk such as dealing with accounts or financial administration, and the short-listed employee has consented. 

Sometimes when you’re about to employ someone new, you may want to do a credit check on them. However, you can only get a credit check on a potential employee in certain situations. You can only ask for a credit check on a prospective employee if: 

  • the prospective employee gives their permission and
  • the job involves financial risk; credit reporters cannot give out credit reports to you unless they reasonably believe that this test has been met; simple cash handling duties, such as being a retail assistant in a shop may not be a “significant financial risk”, but many banking activities are. 

Credit checks should be limited to short-listed applicants and should not be done to create the short-list. When doing credit checks, you must: 

  • tell the person what information will be collected, how and why it is being collected, where it will be kept, whether it is voluntary and the consequences if the person refuses
  • tell the person that they have a right to access and correct the information if necessary
  • keep the information secure
  • only use the credit check to ascertain whether there is any financial reason not to give the person the job
  • not keep the information for longer than necessary.

Pre-employment testing

If you want to test someone for drugs and alcohol before they start working for you, it is best to wait until the results come back before you make them an offer of employment. This avoids any confusion around whether there is an employment relationship in place when you get the results.


  • Published:
  • Last modified:
  • Written for: Employers
  • Share this page:
  • Print this page: