Impartial Employment Decision Making Policy and Procedures
All University staff members.
The University aims for equity outcomes resulting from impartial employment processes and decision making. An impartial decision making procedure ensures employment decisions are based on relevant merit, maintains staff confidence, ensures a reputation for high standards and avoids grievances in employment processes.
1. The University will use and promote best practice in transparent, fair and impartial employment decision making.
Principles of impartiality in decision making:
Principles of natural justice
1. The principles of natural justice require that a person being assessed has a right to be heard by an unbiased, impartial body, and that the body will not act on, or be influenced by hearsay or secret evidence.
2. The evidence used must be logical, reliable and logically probative (not remote, irrelevant or unreliable).
3. The body has a duty to give reasons for their decision.
Conflicts of interest and impartiality
4. Conflicts of interest are to be avoided.
5. A person who has had the opportunity to provide advice on an applicant’s suitability (e.g. through DSAC or referee reports etc) will normally not have a second opportunity to assert their views through another committee.
6. If a conflict is identified, impartial decision making requires that process is seen to be impartial by the University community.
7. In these circumstances, in consultation with the chair, the committee member may either:
- withdraw from discussions
- refrain from providing advice
- refrain from participating in decision making or
- leave the room
Evidence based decision making
8. The University seeks evidence from a variety of sources to reduce potential bias. For example, in the case of promotions, this evidence includes:
- the application
- the CV
- two DSAC advisor reports (or referee reports)
- the academic head's report
- DSAC advice
9. Appointment applications require references.
Criteria based decision making
10. The University has established standards and criteria contained in the Academic Standards Policies for use in for academic appointments, promotions, continuation and other employment processes. Professional staff performance and employment applications are evaluated according to relevant competencies.
11. Managers and committees must ensure that applications are evaluated impartially on the basis of these standards, criteria and competencies.
Composition of committees
12. The committee process is intended to gather diverse and impartial opinion from a variety of sources. For example:
- departmental committees provide the close disciplinary knowledge
- FSCs provide close faculty knowledge combined with breadth of opinion and an overall consistency of decision making
- the UASC maintains University standards and organisational consistency, and provides UASC representatives for each FSC to enhance consistency of decision making in academic employment processes
13. The chair of each committee will ensure that:
- the committee includes, where possible, a balanced gender and ethnic representation, and members with requisite expertise experience and seniority
- outside representatives are present on committees when required by policy
- a quorum (decided by the committee) is maintained at all times
Conduct of committees
14. Chairs are responsible for:
- ensuring members have appropriate training in, and knowledge of policy, process, criteria etc. prior to considering applications, including use of relevant policies such as Achievement Relative to Opportunity Policy and Procedures
- encouraging openness in debate and impartiality in decision making
- encouraging all members to contribute
- avoiding over-influencing committee decision making
- ensuring the committee does not consider hearsay or irrelevant information or irrelevant considerations
- providing regular breaks to avoid members‟ judgment being affected by tiredness and “overload”
15. Committee members are responsible for:
- reading all relevant information prior to the meeting
- avoiding any decision making being influenced by the applicant’s (or their academic head's) potential reaction to the outcome
- maintaining strict confidentiality as required
16. If a committee member is obliged to withdraw from the meeting, he/she can leave comments but will not participate in decisions on applicants that were discussed in their absence.
Confidentiality and access to information
17. The deliberations of the committee and the content of applications and reports will be treated with complete confidentiality.
18. Applicants who request access to reports or information about deliberations must be provided with the information to which they are entitled.
19. Applicants who are dissatisfied with the outcome of a decision making process will have ready access to information about appropriate appeals processes.
The University’s employment criteria are constructed to be inclusive of the skills, aptitudes and special contributions of diverse and under-represented groups. Equity outcomes are achieved by removing barriers to success.
20. Committees will:
- ensure appropriate use of policy and guidelines intended for fair evaluation of staff from equity groups such as the Achievement Relative to Opportunity Policy and Procedures and Evolve Guidebook
- accommodate applications from staff who, for cultural or personal reasons, are modest about their achievements
- review the ethnicity/gender balance of successful applicants – if there is an imbalance in the success rates of equity groups check that the criteria have been applied correctly
The following definitions apply to this document:
Academic head covers heads of departments, schools and other teaching and research units at Level 3 in the University Organisation Structure.
Conflicts of interest can arise in a variety of situations especially when a person is in a close professional, personal or family relationship, or in a personal or professional conflict with an applicant. It is also undesirable to hold dual roles; a basic rule is that “advocates and advisors will not be deciders‟
Impartial decision making in employment involves:
- avoidance of bias
- appropriate resolution of actual and perceived conflicts of interest
- evidence-based decision making
- accurate application of legislation, policy and guidelines
- transparent and fair criteria, standards and processes
- decisions based on merit and in accordance with the highest ethical standards
- as appropriate, disclosure of information to applicants on why a decision was made
Staff member refers to an individual employed by the University on a full or part time basis.
University means the University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries.
Key relevant documents
Include the following:
Document management and control
Owner: Director, Human Resources
Content manager: Associate Director, HR Advisory
Approved by: Vice-Chancellor
Date approved: 26 November 2014
Review date: 1 March 2018