The hiring process

When you hire a new employee, you need to act fairly throughout the recruitment process and make sure you do not discriminate against people based on sex, age, race or other illegal grounds.

Act fairly throughout the recruitment process

The good faith requirements of the Employment Relations Act 2000 are very important when hiring. 

You must: 

  • make sure communications with applicants are clear, with no areas of uncertainty

  • provide offers of employment and employment agreements in writing, including an accurate description of the job

  • make sure negotiation for an employment agreement is fair

Employment agreements

  • protect the confidentiality and privacy of applicants; the Privacy Act 2020 means you must make sure that collecting information does not intrude unreasonably on the applicant’s personal affairs and you cannot disclose an applicant’s details without their consent, even by accident

Employee privacy

  • make sure advertising, selection and hiring decisions are made fairly

Fair process

  • make sure you do not discriminate based on, gender, marital or family status, age, religion or belief, or any other discriminatory grounds 

  • check if the employee has the legal right to work in New Zealand.

Hiring temporary migrants

Additional legislative or workplace policy requirements

Private sector employers do not have to advertise a vacancy unless they have a specific requirement in employment agreements or workplace policies. Some workplace employment agreements or policies state that the employer has to advertise internally before externally or will give preference to employees who have recently been made redundant.

Workplace policies and procedures

Many employers in the public sector are required by the Public Service Act 2020 to notify a vacancy to make sure that suitably qualified applicants are aware of the vacancy, and they must then appoint the applicant best suited to the position.

Public Service Act – New Zealand Legislation(external link)

Describing the job

At a minimum, the employee has to have a description of their work in their employment agreement. You are more likely to find the best person if you and the applicants have a clear idea of what the job involves and what type of skills, experience, and attributes you are looking for.

How to hire – Guide for employers [PDF, 805 KB]

Be fair when hiring

You cannot discriminate against applicants for a job based on the prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Human Rights Act 1993. These grounds include:  

  • age
  • race or colour
  • ethnicity or national origins
  • sex (including pregnancy or childbirth)
  • sexual orientation
  • disability
  • religious or ethical belief
  • marital or family status
  • employment status
  • political opinion
  • whether someone is affected by family violence
  • involvement in union activities.

You cannot ask questions about these things because they generally do not affect the ability of the applicant or 1 of your employees to do their job.  

Also take care with any pre-employment health screening. For example, you cannot use this to discriminate against applicants with a disability (where this is not a listed exception in the Human Rights Act 1993). The information you ask for must be relevant to the proper and safe performance of the job. However, you can ask about: 

  • disclosing previous criminal convictions unless covered by the Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004

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

  • doing reference checks 
  • doing credit checks only if the role has significant financial risk, and
  • driving record.

You'll need written approval from the candidate before you can do these checks. 

Tests and checks

Employee privacy

Office of the Privacy Commissioner – Privacy in recruitment(external link)

Reasonable accommodations

Under the Human Rights Act 1993, employers must take reasonable measures to meet an employee’s needs. This is known as providing ‘reasonable accommodations’.

Providing reasonable accommodations means adjusting the workplace or supporting employees in the workplace so that they can fully participate at work.

Reasonable accommodations might be needed when a person starts work, or once they are already employed, for example, if they become disabled during their employment. An example of reasonable accommodation is Flexible working.

Reasonable Accommodation - Ministry of Social Development (msd.govt.nz)(external link)

Reasonable Accommodation Guidelines – Te Kāhui Tika Tangata Human Rights Commission (tikatangata.org.nz)(external link)


More information 

If you are unsure about your rights or responsibilities or need more information, you can call us on 0800 20 90 20 or email us your query.

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