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Wednesday 09 November 2016

Questioning sexuality in the workforce

Posted in: Our Communities
By Daily News staff - 9th November 2016

Manpower’s privacy policy, that allows the recruitment company to ask questions such as those relating to a person’s sexuality and sexual practices, has been criticised by the Privacy Commission, who say the policy seems “excessive” and collecting information such as this is “concerning”.

AAAP protesting the Manpower Privacy Collection Statement outside it's Auckland offices. Photo: AAAP Facebook
The privacy statement asserts that “sensitive information” such as a person’s sexuality “will be collected by Manpower Services for its own use, to assist Manpower Services in determining suitability for placements”.

However, a spokesperson for the Privacy Commission says it is not common or standard practice for a company to request information such as this. “Privacy Commissioner John Edwards has described Manpower’s privacy statement as the equivalent of getting someone to sign a blank cheque to obtain information about them”.

The Commission says it concerning that information about someone's sexuality can be collected, used, stored and disclosed by a recruitment agency and that “the intention to collect information about a candidate’s sexuality, political views and race are difficult to justify because it would raise questions about whether candidates were being discriminated against on the basis of any of those factors”.

Richard Fischer, Managing Director of ManpowerGroup ANZ has responded to claims made about the company’s processes and contracts, saying that through the companies privacy policy, they “do not collect sensitive information about candidates that is not consistent and compliant with current laws, including privacy laws.

“We would only request personal information about a candidate when it is lawful and required for the role with the host employer,” he says. “Any personal information we obtain, is obtained lawfully and is then protected under our privacy commitment. An example would be when it is necessary for the job that the applicant undergo a Ministry of Justice criminal history check or where the job requires physical tasks and the applicant is asked whether they have any health issues which could prevent them performing those tasks.”

However the Privacy Commissioner has spoken out saying that the company’s collection policies seemed to be excessive and could put it in breach of the Human Rights Act.

“Agencies can only collect information that is necessary for their lawful functions or activities. For example, the Human Rights Act says sexual orientation information cannot be used for employment decisions, so it would be hard to see how it would meet that test. If you don’t need the information, or won’t be able to use it, then don’t collect it.”

An issue such as this not only raises concerns regarding privacy but Human Rights.

Human Rights Commissioner Richard Tankersley says he believes that all organisations should have a policy of equality and fairness.

“I believe that all organisations should have a policy of equality and fairness, when they are considering hiring staff,” he says. “That includes recruitment agencies, brokers and the ultimate employers of the staff as well. This policy of equality and fairness should be regardless of gender and gender identity, of sexual orientation, of ethnicity, age, ability, religion, national origin, all of those things.

“The anti-discrimination provisions of the Human Rights Act provide that you can’t discriminate on those grounds.”

If the Human Rights Commission were to receive a complaint that someone had been discriminated against in an employment context the Commission is required to by it’s act, provide a publicly accessible complaints resolution process and mediation may be offered at the first instance.

Anyone can contact the HRC for information on 0800 496 877 or via a complaints page on their website for anyone who wishes to do so online.

The Commission can consider situations where someone has been refused work or treated differentially on the basis of the prohibited grounds of discrimination. Daily News staff - 9th November 2016

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