An employer was ordered to pay compensation to a sacked employee for unjustified dismissal.

The employee had been hired in a quality assurance role and was sacked when the employer later learnt of her conviction for theft and receiving.  She was awaiting trial at the time of her job interview but was never asked about previous convictions (of which there were many) or pending charges.
If the employer had asked at the interview and been told of her convictions they could have avoided hiring her.  If she had lied then they would be justified in dismissing her for lying at interview.
Instead they found themselves paying her money as well as the costs of defending her claim because it was held that her convictions were not relevant to her ability to do the job according to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).  No doubt the Employer thought otherwise.  If you want to be the one to make that decision and not leave it to the ERA then ask the right questions at the job interview.  Be careful what you ask because it is an offence to request anyone to reveal convictions covered by the Clean Slate law (convictions without imprisonment over 7 years old if no further convictions in those 7 years).  The best way to deal with the issue is to ask two questions:

  1. Do you have any criminal convictions?
  2. Do you have any charges pending or know of any circumstances which could lead to charges against you?

In addition you can ask the potential employee to sign a consent to a Police Check (Clean Slate convictions will not be revealed).

Not asking the right questions can be costly so make them a standard part of your interview checklist.