IRD faces court fight over psychometric tests

Tax department says it will hold off using test results until legal battle is decided

IRD faces court fight over psychometric tests
Inland Revenue will not use information from psychometric assessments of its employees until the Employment Court decides on the issue, the department announced Wednesday.

There is no date yet for a hearing.

The Public Service Association initiated court proceedings on the use of the tests that Inland Revenue said would help select staff for about 860 new positions.

Chief People Officer Mark Daldorf said that despite the complaint, they were proceeding with the selection process for the new positions, many of which are new specialist roles.

“We have taken this decision with the interests of our staff front of mind, and to continue to provide them with the most certainty as soon as possible about their future at IR,” Daldorf said.

The IR, which is implementing massive restructuring, said psychometric testing for its staff would help demonstrate a person’s suitability for a new position.

The restructure seeks to simplify the tax system but will see most jobs at the department change. About 1500 positions will be axed to simplify the tax system.

But the PSA objected to the psychometric testing, saying that while this is common for candidates for new jobs, it should not be used to assess existing staff who are reapplying for jobs.

The PSA called the tests offensive and possibly illegal. "There are so many absurd and wasteful components to this process that it's hard to pin down which parts of this restructure are most offensive," PSA’s national secretary Erin Polaczuk said in a statement.

"Most of these workers have been with Inland Revenue for many years – some for more than two decades – and they are now being coerced into taking psychometric tests that are pseudoscientific and subjective just so they can reapply to keep their jobs," she said.

The new jobs would mostly involve doing the same work the employees had been doing for many years, Polaczuk said, as she pointed out that he tests would be offensive to long-serving employees who are experts in tax regulation and compliance.

Daldorf insisted that Inland Revenue is “committed to delivering on our organisation redesign and transition timetable as planned, and delivering a world-class tax system for all New Zealanders.”

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