Working around the issue

16:00, Jan 31 2013
NOVO-PAIN: Marion Skelton and Mike Stanghan with the boxes of Novopay problems they’ve had to deal with at Howick College since the payroll system was implemented in August last year.

The summer holidays normally offer a much-needed break for school staff.

But that wasn't the case for Howick College accounts manager Marion Skelton.

Her holidays were dampened by the dark cloud of Novopay.

In the time Mrs Skelton would normally spend relaxing and enjoying her family, she ended up working 56 hours of overtime.

And it was all on Novopay problems - the school had one staff member who wasn't paid at all and two others who were incorrectly paid over the Christmas period.

The college had been prepared for issues like this and had set up an email account specifically for Novopay.


Mrs Skelton checked this account every day while she was on holiday.

She answered queries from teachers and set up payments to those who had been left in the lurch thanks to Novopay.

"It made staff feel better knowing that they could flick an email through and I would answer them and if it was something I couldn't fix at the time then at least they had an answer and knew I was working on it."

Mrs Skelton says now at the very least what schools need is timely responses to their inquiries from Novopay.

"I sent a request in September for a support staff member who wanted to get her salary topped up by WINZ over the Christmas period so she needed a statement of earnings. It arrived last week, what use is that to her now?"

Howick College business manager Mike Stanghan says the board of trustees and school staff, especially Marion, have gone above and beyond to ensure staff haven't been left out of pocket. And Marion will be paid for that holiday overtime; "well we hope she will be paid but it's up to Novopay now".

Mr Stanghan says the start-of-year pay cycle kicks off next week and it will undoubtedly be plagued with more problems.

"New teachers entering the pay roll always creates issues for Novopay and at the start of the year we have a lot of new teachers."

Mr Stanghan says they have found ways around some of the many glitches and inconsistencies of Novopay.

"It is supposed to be getting better but instead we've had to figure out a way to make it work.

"They might see statistically that we are doing a whole lot better, and yeah we are but not because the system has improved or bedded down or we've learnt how to use it. It's because we have learnt how to work around it."

Both are hopeful there will be tangible results coming their way following the appointment of Government "fix-it" minister Steven Joyce.

"It is nice to see that it is being acknowledged for the problem it is," Mr Stanghan says.

Eastern Courier