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Employment Equity Act, 1998 (Act No. 55 of 1998)

Code of Good Practice

Integration of Employment Equity into Human Resource Policies and Practices

Part A : Commencing Employment

10. Medical, Psychological and other similar assessments9


10.1 SCOPE


Appropriate medical, psychological and other similar assessments, if properly used by employers, could contribute positively toward the recruitment and development of suitably qualified applicants and employees. Assessments, whether medical, psychological or other similar assessments, should include rather than exclude individuals with potential and those suitably qualified.




10.2.1 The Act prohibits medical testing, unless legislation permits or requires the testing; or it is justifiable in the light of medical facts, employment conditions, social policy, the fair distribution of employee benefits or the inherent requirements of the job. Psychological and similar assessments are also prohibited by the Act, unless the assessment being used has been scientifically shown to be valid and reliable; can be applied fairly to all employees; and is not biased against any employee or group. Assessments are required to be free from unfair discrimination based on the prohibited grounds. Tests that directly or indirectly unfairly discriminate on these grounds are inappropriate and should be avoided.


10.2.2 An assessment is seen to be directly unfairly discriminatory when it excludes employees from designated groups on the basis of one or more of the prohibited grounds. Indirect unfair discrimination, however, is the more likely outcome. This occurs when, on average, the majority of a particular group assessed scores below the minimum requirement compared to other groups or individuals.


10.2.3 Assessments should be used to identify candidates with potential and persons who are suitably qualified. These assessments should then be followed-up by relevant intervention measures like appropriate training and development.




10.3.1 An employer who uses medical, psychological and other similar assessments should develop a written policy for the workplace, which identifies the purpose, context, methods and criteria applicable to selecting and conducting assessments.


10.3.2 An employer should ensure that assessments used are valid, reliable and fair10, so that no group or individual is unfairly disadvantaged as a result of the assessment. Bias in the application of the assessment should be eliminated. The test should match the job in question and should measure the minimum level of the competencies required to perform the job, which must be based on the inherent requirements or essential functions of the relevant job. Tests should avoid arbitrary or irrelevant questions. Only assessments that have been professionally validated as reliable predictors of performance for a particular job, irrespective of race, gender or disability, should be used.


10.3.3 Administrators and users of medical, psychological and other similar assessments should be qualified and registered with the appropriate recognised professional body of South Africa. Assessors should be trained to understand, evaluate and interpret the evidence or outcomes of the assessment objectively against the skills and abilities required for the job and must be able to justify their decisions. The assessment process should also minimise the opportunity for assessors to make subjective or arbitrary judgments that could, deliberately or inadvertently, work to the advantage of one group over another. Assessors should make sure they assess against the competencies for the job.


10.3.4 Special care should be taken to ensure that the language used is sensitive and accessible to those who are being assessed.


10.3.5 All employees or applicants for a particular job should be assessed against the same criteria. The process should make accommodation for diversity and special needs.


10.3.6 An employer should keep assessment records for at least one year11.


10.3.7 Employers should ensure that reasonable accommodation is made for employees or applicants where required, and that unfair discrimination does not occur in the arrangements for the administering of tests or in using assessment centres12.





10.4.1 Skills development - Assessments can be used to identify potential amongst employees or applicants from designated groups. This links to affirmative action in training and development. Enabling an individual access to specific training and development programmes, or any other relevant intervention can eliminate skills and competency gaps identified in an employee.



9 Medical, psychological and other similar assessments are also covered in Section 7 of the Employment Equity Act as well as the Code of Good Practice on Key Aspects of HIV/AIDS and Employment and in the Code of Good Practice the Employment of People with Disabilities.


10 Validity is the extent to which a test measures what it is intended to measure and indicates the degree of accuracy of either predictions or inferences based upon the test score. Reliability is the extent to which a test is dependable, stable and consistent when administered to the same individuals on different occasions. Fairness relates to how the results of the assessments are applied: it is the total of all the variables that play a role or influence the final decision of an employer. This can include the assessment, integration of data, recommendations based on these data or the final decision made by the employer.


11 Psychological assessment are valid for 1 year


12 For example, the dates or times for the test coincide with religious festivals or observances, or the employer does not take into account dietary preferences or cultural norms that could cause disadvantage; or where the facilities used are inappropriate (for example the assessment centre is on the first floor of a building with no elevator and the employee or job applicant is in a wheelchair).