Merit Relative to Opportunity Policy and Procedures


All staff members at the University.


To ensure a fair and equitable evaluation of merit when circumstances have affected staff members’ participation in the work place.


Merit relative to opportunity is an evaluative concept enabling fair and equitable assessment of a staff member’s achievements given the opportunities available to them. This is consistent with a commitment to excellence, equity and State Sector Act ‘good employer’ obligations.

The related document Merit Relative to Opportunity Guidelines gives further explanation and support for implementing this policy. 



  1. Employment-related decisions including appointments, access to career development and progression, and promotion must be based on merit and take into account the quality and impact of the individual’s achievements relative to opportunities available

Related procedures

Assessing merit

2. The following factors are to be taken into account in assessing merit relative to opportunity:

  • Whether the quality and impact of achievements are consistent with expectations of performance at the relevant academic or professional staff level
  • The overall productivity of achievements, including the quantity, rate, or consistency of achievements over time, and relative output across various areas

3. Circumstances which may be taken into account when assessing opportunities include:

  • Responsibilities to whanau, hapu, iwi and hāpori
  • Significant carer responsibilities for children, elderly parents, or ill family members
  • Ill-health, impairment or medical conditions, whether temporary, episodic or permanent
  • Career interruptions and delays such as time out for work in a different field, required interruptions to work arrangements (e.g. working in an “acting“ capacity that disrupts usual duties),  parental leave, and part-time or flexible working arrangements 

Application of merit relative to opportunity

4. Individuals are to be invited to disclose relevant professional/personal circumstances and working arrangements  

5. Employment-related decision makers can then give appropriate consideration to these circumstances or arrangements and the effect they can have and have had on the:

  • Overall time available
  • Quantum or rate of productivity
  • Opportunity to participate in certain types of activities
  • Consistency of activities or output over the period of consideration


The following definitions apply to this document:

Staff member refers to an individual employed by the University on a full time or part time basis

University means the University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries

Document management and control

Content manager: Director Staff Equity

Owner: Director, Pro Vice-Chancellor Equity

Approved by: Vice-Chancellor

Date approved:  17 November 2016           

Review date: 17 November 2019

Further information

More information about the University’s commitment to be a fair and inclusive place to study and work can be found on the Equity Office website.