Pay shambles sours teacher's OE plans

Ministry pay shambles sours OE plans

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
EDUCATION REPORTER
Last updated 05:00 30/10/2012
Rebecca Young
KEVIN STENT/Fairfax NZ
TEARFUL: Upper Hutt College relieving teacher Rebecca Young is leaving for overseas tomorrow but is still battling with Novopay to get money she is owed.

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A Wellington teacher is facing a bleak OE, with the botched Novopay system still owing her about $5000 on the eve of her departure.

Geography teacher Rebecca Young, 27, has racked up credit card debt and missed bill payments over the six weeks for which she has not received holiday pay owing to her for relieving at Upper Hutt College earlier this year.

She is just one of thousands of teachers either not paid, underpaid, or overpaid since the introduction of the $29.4 million Novopay service in August.

Tomorrow will be the fifth payment cycle since Novopay was introduced, and Miss Young was upset to hear she would still not be on it, despite her school, union and MPs advocating on her behalf.

Her details were "somewhere lost in translation" and it was unknown exactly how much she was owed until Novopay caught up on the calculations, she said.

She was also owed for some relieving placements this term, and had been charged for student loan payments that had not been made.

Miss Young disputed Education Ministry claims that no teacher would be left financially disadvantaged by Novopay's teething problems.

She had to turn down $280-a-day relieving jobs to spend hours trying to fix her pay problems before leaving for Britain via Paris tomorrow morning, she said.

"I definitely feel financially disadvantaged.

"Emotionally I'm not normally a crier, but I have been in tears most days."

She planned her trip on the assumption she could last through a month of job hunting, but now she was desperate to get to London and secure immediate work.

"It's the stress of not knowing. I don't know if I'm going to be turning up to Paris on Thursday with money in my bank account."

The stress was so much that, when she bumped into Labour leader David Shearer on a recent flight to Christchurch, she burst into tears while telling him of her plight.

"He was incredibly sympathetic and agreed something had to be done.

"I have a bet that I will get paid for any work I earn in the UK before I get money owed to me here."

PPTA general secretary Kevin Bunker said payroll problems among its members were going into a ministry "problems-to-be-solved queue" to be dealt with one at a time.

But it was not good enough if the system could not manually solve urgent issues such as Miss Young's.

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"It's a very straightforward calculation, and there is nothing to stop it being done manually."

After being contacted by The Dominion Post and Labour MP Chris Hipkins, the Education Ministry said it was ensuring all money owed to Miss Young would be in her account before she left New Zealand.

Chief information officer Leanne Gibson said she was "pulling out all the stops to ensure she gets her full pay owing", even if it was not through Novopay.

Judith Taylor, principal of Upper Hutt College, said yesterday that getting help from Novopay to sort out staff pay problems "has been a nightmare".

NOVOPAY SLOW PAY

Issues since Novopay was introduced, according to the Education Ministry:

5600 known under or non-payments in first cycle

1100 in second cycle

Fewer than 100 in third cycle

Fewer than 60 in the fourth cycle

Problems for relief teachers and other staff who use timesheets, and people entering and leaving the ministry payroll.

Issues with third-party payments, such as superannuation and student loans, being deducted from staff pay, but not paid to the various providers.

Ministry aims to have made all the payments by the end of next month.

Contact Jody O'Callaghan
Education reporter
Email: jody.o'callaghan@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @miss_jodyo

- The Dominion Post

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