Secretary queried over payroll launch

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
Last updated 13:31 28/11/2012
Lesley Longstone
STACY SQUIRES/Fairfax NZ
LESLEY LONGSTONE: It has been a tough year.

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If the secretary of education were to roll Novopay out again, it would be "completely and totally different".

Lesley Longstone made the admission while being grilled by members of parliament at the education and science committee financial review meeting this morning.

The new pay system that has seen teachers underpaid, overpaid and sometimes not paid at all since its launch in August was a hot topic for discussion.

Novopay was the most complex payroll system in Australasia, made more complicated when the 10,000 different combinations of conditions and allowances to staff contracts were considered, Ms Longstone said.

''We did recognise that it was a very complex pay system at the outset, but we obviously didn't allow for that complexity in terms of time it took to develop the system.''

The Education Ministry chose to test, rather than trial, the system.

''If I were to do it again, I would probably do it completely and totally different.''

She was not complacent about the problems, but was very confident that, in time, the system would fulfil its promises.

When the payment mechanism was tested, it was found to be ''actually very accurate'', but there were problems within other parts of the software.

''The system we know is paying a vast majority of staff correctly. However, it is not universally the case.

''I have assured schools and their staff that both the ministry and Talent2 are working extremely hard to put those issues right.''

While there were some concerns among schools before the launch, that was part of the industry norm, she said.

She refused to say what penalties Talent 2 would face for not satisfying the terms of its contract, because it was commercial in confidence.

She promised compensation for any financial disadvantage directly caused by Novopay errors, and was not ruling out calls for more general compensation. But at this stage the focus was on getting the system right.

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

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