Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Equal Employment Opportunities ( EEO)

This bolg is about what we call " Equal Employment Opportunities" ( EEO) and what I see as a huge gap in policy that rather then helps people with disabilities, hinders them and what’s even worse puts them at a higher risk of being discriminate against rather then a less one. This is a oxymaton

I am concerned that people with disabilities are made venerable at the time of application for a vacancy based on the State Services Commission (SSC) Advise as I will now explain why:

SSC has recommended the following question can be asked as part of its guidance on EEO data in the Public Service:
"Do you have any disability that restricts you in performing everyday activities and which is long-term (lasting 6 months or more)"…

Under the heading “Application forms”
http://www.ssc.govt.nz/display/document.asp?docid=5893&pageno=2#P73_11793

Translated to a working example of an application form this is what you get:

Do you have, or have you ever had, a medical condition caused by an injury, illness, disability or gradual process that the tasks of the position may aggravate or contribute to, or that may affect your ability to carry out the work of the position applied for? If “yes”, please give brief details:
CYFS application form- 0_Application_Form_A_July_2008 Page 2


I have no problem with that question being asked and any good employer would want to no to assess the risk to the person or there business. Example they would not want the disability to be aggravated and put the employee at further risk or there business and clients at the other end of the service.

However what I do have issues with is if someone does declare they have a disability that may affect your ability to carry out the work of the position applied for? At this point of application there seem to be no protection in place to ensure if the question is answered the applicant is not discriminated against.

The SSC state:
Information on disabilities is sensitive, and has the potential to inappropriately influence decisions on an applicant's suitability for employment…”

So even the SSC can see the potential problem and given the SSC advise this question can be asked both why and how they then go on to say:
“..where the disability is not directly related to the skills and qualifications needed to perform the job for which they are applying. For this reason, collecting disability information after a person is appointed is likely to produce better quality data”
What happens where the disability is directly related to the skills and qualifications needed to perform the job for which they are applying? Well my answer to that is simply that you can be discriminated against no one would no, care or follow-up, to make sure this does not happen.

I mean come on can people not see the logic , if a persons disability does not affect there job performance or condition, that would not be a mark against them, however if it does that is where the problem is as I see therefore take issues with this:

The SSC state: When to collect disability data
“Disability data is normally collected at the time of appointment and not at the time of application…”

http://www.ssc.govt.nz/display/document.asp?docid=5893&PageType=content&displaytype=pf
The problem is if the person’s disability they have had to declare at the time of application has an impact on the position being applied for they might not make it to appointment as a result.

So only collecting information “Disability data at the time of appointment” is not accurate at all if it’s not a factor at the time of application and relevant to the position and tasks being applied for.

It seems to me based on my understanding there is a glaring fundamental floor in light of the SSC advice and the gap in the policy I have highlighted.
So I conclude the SSC views on these matters and advice does more harm that good and in no way help’s those in the position wherein there disability is a factor for consideration at the point of application and beyond if they make it further which I see as highly unlikely having been in that position many times.

I believe the SSC needs to develop a monitor a policy for those who have to declare a disability at the time of application that is sensitive and protective towards the disadvantaged who answer the question based on the SSC guidelines.

The SSC has got some very good advice and guidelines about “SECTION TWO: IDENTIFYING AND OVERCOMING BARRIERS” on page 3 of 6
http://www.ssc.govt.nz/display/document.asp?docid=5893&pageno=2#P73_11793

However the next problem is
“The State Services Commission relies on chief executives having appropriate processes in place to ensure that appointments within their departments are based on merit…

…“Lastly, although the State Services Commission cannot direct departments to comply with its guidance it expects Public Service Chief Executives to demonstrate good employment practices, in line with section 56 of the State Sector Act 1988.

I gather what this is really saying in simple terms” the SSC crosses its fingers “and hopes the government departments are doing what they say they are meant to be and relies on the word and possibly reporting at face value from the Chief Executives.
I mean come on do you ever think a Chief Executives will fess up if they are doing wrong, or more to the point any detrimental information could make it into a report for the Chief Executives that is damaging and could come back to bite them and cost someone their job within there own organization..

I have been witting to the SSC for some time over a number of EEO policy issues as you can see on my webpage
http://graemea.snap.net.nz/10a_ssc_eeo.html and can’t see that they are at all keen on rectifying the problem I highlighted and the SSC really failed to convince me I am wrong if that was the case. Last year I asked the SSC because of my disability if I could meet with what I think they call “State Sector Equal Employment Opportunities practitioners’ network” a told it was not open to the public. Yip sounds to me like they are really open to ideas or finding a solution to what I see as a problem they want to ignore and hope I will just go away it seems…

This letter will be published…

Cheers
Graeme Axford

Contact List of Departments and Agencies for the State Sector EEO Practitioners’ Network
Department of Corrections
Department of Internal Affairs
Department of Labour
Education Review Office
Human Rights Commission
Inland Revenue Department
Land Information New Zealand
Ministry for the Environment
Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Ministry of Health
Ministry of Maori Development
Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs
Ministry of Research Science and Technology
Ministry of Transport
National Library of New Zealand
New Zealand Customs Service
New Zealand Defence Force
Parliamentary Service
State Services Commission
The New Zealand Police
I hope these organization on the State Sector Equal Employment Opportunities practitioners’ network”help me get my point accross as I was not allowed (by the SSC) to met you all in person to better explain my case as writting/Literacy is not a stong point given my disability,


The SSC have know about my concerns for over a year now and done nothing

My webpage is http://graemea.snap.net.nz/