Kathmandu will stop asking job hopefuls what prescribed medications they take.

Over the weekend the Herald on Sunday revealed the outdoor equipment and clothing retailer was asking job applicants questions about their health, including what prescription medications they were on.

That was criticised by the Mental Health Foundation as enabling discrimination. The organisation urged Kathmandu to rethink its approach.

In a statement released today, Kathmandu said after feedback it was dropping the questions related to the health of candidates.


"Having reviewed our application form, we recognise that the way some questions are currently being asked may lead to the perception that they could be used to discriminate against potential employees," a spokeswoman said.

"As a result, we have amended the job application form, removing the health questions previously asked."

The spokeswoman said Kathmandu was committed to a safe work environment "while balancing the right to privacy and duty of care as an employer".

"We always strive to improve our processes and thank those who, in this instance, have provided feedback."

Kathmandu had asked potential hires a range of questions about their health during an online application process.

One mandatory question was: "Are you currently taking any prescribed drugs or medications?" If people select "yes", they were asked to provide details.

The same questions were asked for a range of positions currently advertised, including desk jobs such as IT positions and those on the shop floor.

Potential workers were also asked how many days off work due to illness they had taken in the past 12 months of paid work, and whether they had medical or other conditions the company needed to be aware of.


Speaking prior to today's announcement, Shaun Robinson, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said knowing what medications someone takes does not give an employer any information about whether they can carry out a job competently.

"However, it does give them clues about a person's medical status that can enable them to discriminate.

"It's okay to ask job applicants if there is anything that will impact on their ability to do a particular job ... it's not okay to ask general questions about medical history or medication that aren't directly relevant."

Kathmandu was founded in Christchurch in 1987, and has offices there and in Melbourne and London. It has 118 stores in Australia, 48 in New Zealand and a handful in the UK.