Teacher steps up, but no pay to go with post

ESTHER ASH-COVENTRY
Last updated 05:00 08/02/2013
RUNNING SHORT: Timaru Boys' High School teacher Tracey Atwool has not been paid by the Ministry of Education since December last year.
JOHN BISSET/Fairfax NZ
RUNNING SHORT: Timaru Boys' High School teacher Tracey Atwool has not been paid by the Ministry of Education since December last year.

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Timaru Boys' High School teacher Tracey Atwool is one of the faces of the Novopay scandal - she has not been paid by the Ministry of Education since December last year.

After three years working at the high school, this year was to be her first in a permanent position, but that change has somehow stopped her being paid at all.

She is in the unenviable position of realising this may be just the start of her headache with Novopay.

Ms Atwool said she has been fortunate that she had stopped her automatic payments and the school has lent her money to pay her mortgage. But she is unsure what will happen with her KiwiSaver payments and PTA fees.

"The school can cover me for a while but not forever and it will be a juggle to pay it back."

The English, computer studies and Esol (English to students of other languages) teacher has found it really unsettling not knowing when she will be paid.

As a good budgeter she has been frustrated that she cannot make any plans and has to cut right back on spending. "This would not happen in the corporate world."

She does not understand why the system was introduced when the previous Datacom pay process worked well.

Some of her colleagues had lost money filling in for someone sick or taking on a more senior role, while others were told to hang on to extra money they received as it was too complex to return it. She said some people probably did not even notice they had been overpaid or underpaid because they did not check their payslips, which came via email, properly.

Ms Atwool is using up her emergency stock of canned food and her insurance bills are due soon but tries not to think about the problem so she won't panic.

Over the Christmas holidays, she built a deck and completed some painting jobs around her house but did not factor in that she would start the year with nothing. Saving for a holiday is now on hold.

She is grateful for the support she has received from the school but thinks it is unfair that TBHS has had to use its own money on her. "It's not their place to be paying us. I want to see something done quickly, but there seems to be no end date."

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- The Timaru Herald

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