'Exploitative' recruitment company says contracts 'a mistake'

Inside Manpower's Auckland office (Newshub.)
Inside Manpower's Auckland office (Newshub.)

A major recruitment company says it has changed its employment contracts which were exposed as being legally questionable by Newshub on Wednesday.

Manpower Group had a clause in its contracts which gave the company power to collect and pass on workers' sexual preferences and practices, race, religious beliefs and political views.

Earlier today, eight people, including veteran activist Sue Bradford, were arrested after locking themselves in the company's head office in central Auckland.

They want Work and Income to stop working with Manpower, which they say offers substandard, potentially illegal contracts.

In an email to Auckland Action Against Poverty, Manpower said the contract in question was mistakenly given to Work and Income clients and is no longer being used.

Manpower's Managing Director Richard Fischer told Newshub it had changed the contract but then refused to say how.

"We have looked at it carefully, reviewed it carefully and we are now confident in our operations as a result of that process."

However Newshub sent a job seeker into the Manpower offices after the contract was supposedly changed and she was given the same contract as the beneficiaries plus an extra page to add some job details later.

The jobseeker was also given the so-called privacy collection statement.

In the interview, she was told "we will be collecting sensitive information about you like your date of birth, your address, your phone number".

But Manpower's waiver lists examples of other sensitive information including race, religion, and sexual preferences.

However the company says it would only request personal information about a candidate when it is lawful and required for the role.

"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," Manpower said in a statement.

Speaking from Australia, Mr Fischer is adamant all of the information collected is in compliance with New Zealand privacy laws.

"In all cases we only provide information on candidates that is relevant to the role required by the employer."

The Privacy Commissioner says the policy is the equivalent of getting someone to sign a blank cheque.

"To me it seems to be excessive, it seems to collect information that if they are actually collecting could put them in breach of the Human Rights Act," said Privacy Commissioner John Edwards.

But Manpower says it's confident its policy is legal and it's not planning to change it.


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