Policies and procedures

Policy No.
Human Resources
Authoring Organisational Unit
Equity and Diversity Office
Date Approved
Next Review Date
Approving Body
Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor And Registrar

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The University of Western Australia

University Policy on: Achievement Relative to Opportunity

Purpose of the policy and summary of issues it addresses:

The purpose of this policy is to provide consistency, fairness and transparency in the implementation and utilisation of the principles of achievement relative to opportunity in any staffing matter requiring a decision, evaluation, or determination based on merit.

This policy applies where a decision relating to an employee:

  • is based on a competitive selection or assessment process or merit; or
  • is resolved by an evaluation or assessment of achievements; or
  • focuses on the relative capacity of the candidates to achieve outcomes related to the duties, recognition or reward; or
  • is based on the relative suitability of the candidate for the duties, recognition or reward; or
  • is based on the relationship between the candidate's work-related qualities and the work-related qualities genuinely required for the performance of the duties.


"Achievement Relative to Opportunity" is an evaluative framework in which there is a positive acknowledgement of what a staff member can or has achieved given the opportunities available to them. Weight is given to talent and excellence, and the overall quality and impact of achievements, rather than the quantity or rate of achievements and/or measurable outputs.

" Work-related qualities" includes: skills and abilities; qualifications, training and competencies; standard of work performance; capacity to produce required outcomes; relevant personal qualities; and potential for future development.

"Employee" means a person prospectively or currently employed by the University.

"The University" means The University of Western Australia

Policy statement:

The University is committed to the fair treatment of employees, a workplace culture that values work/life balance, and to attracting, developing and retaining the highest quality staff.

To meet this aim the University requires that decision making in competitive selection processes compares the achievements of candidates fairly. University processes will not unduly penalise employees, who, due to personal or workplace circumstances, or periods of time away from work, or constrained opportunities, have lower quantifiable measurable outputs than those expected of people who have been engaged in full-time ongoing work.

The principle of Achievement Relative to Opportunity recognises that a fair competitive assessment of an employee's performance outputs, or of their capacity to meet identified requirements for success, must take into consideration the person's achievements relative to their opportunity to accrue outputs. This allows for appropriate consideration of the relative suitability of the talents, skills and abilities of that person against the genuine requirements of the decision being made.

Assessment of an employee's achievements relative to the opportunities available, involves considering their productivity relative to the circumstances, actual time and specific opportunities available to them, while maintaining a focus on pertinent performance standards, especially those relating to the quality and impact of achievements. In the assessment of quantity, or rate of achievement, the overall quality and impact of contributions and achievements as well as talent and excellence are weighted.

The Achievement Relative to Opportunity policy applies at any time there is an evaluation or an assessment of a person's work-related qualities, or when a decision requires an assessment of an employee's outputs or achievements.

1. Responsibilities

Decisions by the employer regarding the development or positioning of an employee, or the evaluation of a person's achievements or measurable outputs, will take into consideration the range of relevant personal circumstances, working arrangements and career histories that impact on an employee's opportunities for achievement.

Where a decision, evaluation or assessment is to be based on accomplishments, achievements or merit, the delegated officer or area responsible for the decision should provide the opportunity for employees to supply a statement of the circumstances that have had an impact on their measurable outputs.

Employees are responsible for preparing their own disclosure statement of the circumstances that they wish to place under consideration, and ascertaining the requirements of the Achievement Relative to Opportunity Statement ascribed by the decision maker or committee.

Employees are encouraged to disclose relevant personal circumstances, constraints on time or options available, working arrangements and career histories that may have reduced their opportunities to achieve measurable outputs. Circumstances that are not disclosed by the employee will not be included in the assessment of Achievement Relative to Opportunity.

Employees are not compelled to disclose the details of personal circumstances. However, should an employee choose to disclose personal circumstances and request confidentiality, that information should be managed by the person receiving that information in accordance with the University's records management practices and policies. This information should not be disclosed without the consent of the employee.

2. Statement and Assessment

A decision on any staffing matter requiring an evaluation, determination or assessment of an employee's outputs or achievements, should be based on a two-fold assessment of a person's work-related qualities: those meeting organisational requirements and those required for efficient, effective organisational performance.

Assessment of the productivity or performance of an employee should be made in the context of academic discipline or role expectations, and include an assessment of the employee's opportunities to achieve outcomes relative to the time and circumstances available to them. Evaluation and assessment of an employee should allow for contextualising the outputs, relative to the opportunity of the employee.

The process of evaluating Achievement Relative to Opportunity should be transparent and applied fairly in relation to each eligible employee, and information about the evaluation process should be readily available to employees. Committees or decision makers can specify how employees can best present their Achievement Relative to Opportunity Statement, and information about the specifications should be made available to all employees seeking assessment by that committee or decision maker.

The employee's statement should be treated as confidential, and should not be released without the consent of the employee. Employees should be made aware of the extent of necessary distribution of their statement and of the archive and record keeping arrangements for the document.

Where appropriate, the statement should address time away from work, or the time period associated with particular claims, such as ongoing impacts, constraints, or dislocation.

3. Appeals or complaints

Any appeal or complaint arising from an assessment of Achievement Relative to Opportunity should be managed under existing procedures or policy for complaints appeals or grievances applicable to the process of the decision being made.

4. Interaction with other policies

Where any other policy or procedure requires consideration of merit, achievement, or outputs, Achievement Relative to Opportunity (this policy) shall be an integral part of the consideration, evaluation and determination procedures.

5. Procedures

Employer Procedures

Information about a selection process, or merit based decision, or evaluation of performance is made available to employees and should also include information about preparing and submitting an Achievement Relative to Opportunity Statement.

The employee is required to provide a brief summary of the relevant circumstances but is not required to provide specific details (such as tasks undertaken as primary carer) nor describe specific details about sensitive issues such as a medical diagnosis.

Staff should be given the opportunity to elect to have personal circumstances remain confidential.

The person receiving and assessing the application should manage confidential information according to University's Records Management Policy. This information should not be disclosed without the employee's consent.

The following types of circumstances will be considered:

a. parental leave;

b. carer's and family responsibilities (primary carer for children, elder-care, illness of a partner or dependant);

c. the impact of temporary or permanent disability;

d. relevant cultural expectations or circumstances;

e. significant periods of part-time work;

f. significant absence due to ill-health, injury, or debilitating illness;

h. disruption due to relocation or misadventure;

i. work function or workload, including structure or organisation of a work unit; and/or

j. any other relevant aspect of career or opportunities for achievement that have not been detailed elsewhere in this policy; for example, circumstances that may have slowed down or reduced outputs, or affected the time or opportunities available to conduct and publish research or to produce other measurable outputs.

Employee Procedures

Employees are responsible for completing their own Achievement Relative to Opportunity Statement and for ascertaining the requirements of the relevant committee or decision maker.

Employees should ensure that the information provided is accessible and clearly articulates the time-frames and circumstances being submitted for consideration.

Employees are not obliged to disclose personal information. However, decisions and assessments will only take into consideration information made available by the employee. Employees may request that personal information is kept in accordance with the University's records management procedures.

The employee's Achievement Relative to Opportunity Statement should:

comment on the employee's overall career history and trajectory in light of the opportunities available to them;

provide a positive acknowledgement of what has been achieved given the opportunities available during the time period being considered (for example, since the last promotion, appointment or performance appraisal); and

the employee should estimate the amount of time attributed to each circumstance and articulate the significance of the impact on their outputs and achievements.

R elated forms: (Link)

P olicy No: UP13/3

A pproving body or position:

Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor

Date original policy approved:

7 th August 2013

Date this version of policy approved: 7 th August 2013

Date policy to be reviewed:

June 2023

Date this version of procedures approved:

TRIM File No:


Contact position:

Associate Director Equity and Diversity

Text Box: Related Policies or legislation:

                 Professional Development Review Policy. UP07/250

                 Academic Promotion Policy UP12/29

                 Guidelines for the Development of an Academic Workload Allocation System* UP07/168

                  Sabbatical - Academic Staff UP07/239

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