$937k top-up for failing teachers' pay firm

CHARLEY MANN
Last updated 08:27 23/12/2012

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Schools have paid staff more than $560,000 wages from their own coffers, as the much-maligned Novopay system continues to underpay and not pay.

Since the $29 million system went live in August, more than 8100 staff have not been paid or been underpaid, with some out of pocket for more than two months.

Figures released to Sunday Star-Times under the Official Information Act reveal schools across the country have footed the bill for $562,175 worth of payments to staff.

The ministry has made manual payments totalling $375,567 to staff who had not been paid by the Novopay system.

That makes a total of more than $937,000 in salaries having to be sourced from outside Novopay.

Regional breakdowns of the payments were not available.

Education Workforce acting group manager David McIntosh said the ministry was notified of "a number of school employees who were not paid or underpaid in each pay cycle by the Novopay payroll system.

"These employees have either received payment from the school or the ministry, or have stated that they were prepared to wait until the next pay cycle for their pay to be rectified."

Almost 200 staff were on the opposite end of the scale, and were overpaid more than $300,000.

Of that sum, $175,971 is still in those teachers' bank accounts.

Overpayments are recorded on a debt ledger maintained by Talent2, the company behind Novopay, on a four-week cycle.

The most up-to-date data available is from November 11.

The largest overpayment, paid directly into a staff bank account, was $26,383 in September.

"A data-entry error resulted in a single employee being incorrectly paid for 625 hours' day relief, rather than 90 hours," McIntosh said.

Meanwhile, the longest time any school payroll clark spent on the phone to Novopay was one hour, 28 minutes and 32 seconds, on September 10.

McIntosh said average waiting time on November 30 was two minutes and 44 seconds.

Talent2 employs 24 people in the call centre and a night shift has been added "to ensure timely processing of email queries".

Organising redundancy and final salary payments for McKenzie Residential School staff has been a "shambles".

Education Minister Hekia Parata announced McKenzie was to close in October, in favour of a wraparound system in which pupils will be supported in mainstream classrooms.

Principal Greg Healy had to battle to ensure each of his staff was not only paid correctly, but that they received redundancy packages.

Healy had just over six weeks - from the closure being announced to the official end of term - to co-ordinate the payroll.

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"That's been a shambles," he said.

"It has been really difficult getting redundancy right with the ministry. There are major issues with Novopay."

He did not mind putting in the hours.

"We have got to get it right for the staff.

"The staff have stayed on right through, right through to the end," he said.

- Sunday Star Times

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