Manawatu principals, staff hope seminar will fix payroll woes

TALIA SHADWELL AND FAIRFAX NZ
Last updated 12:00 13/11/2012

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Manawatu principals and payroll staff are hopeful lessons learnt at a Novopay seminar will spell the beginning of the end of the embattled payroll system's glitches.

The $30 million electronic payroll system has been beset with issues since it was introduced in August, with some teachers being underpaid, overpaid or not paid at all, and a high volume of complaints received over helpline waiting times.

In Palmerston North, school staff at a Novopay workshop yesterday that aimed to help schools plan for end-of-year pay cycles said they were hoping for an improvement.

Tiritea School principal Glenys Edmonds was optimistic that the new training they had been given could offer respite for schools.

"If it works, it looks like it's going to be straightforward," she said.

Apiti School principal Mary Cumming was less optimistic, as one of her staff who was overpaid $39,000 in one pay cycle and promptly returned the money still has not been paid since.

"It is all very well that they know we have all these problems and it's going to be [fixed], we just want to know when and how. It is still taking far too long to do anything and I can see this being a nightmare."

New Zealand Educational Institute Te Riu Roa has called for a full public inquiry into the Novopay payroll system following revelations of security breaches at an Auckland school this week.

And a Manawatu school last week was the subject of an Education Ministry inquiry after it was revealed that one school was able to change the pay details of a teacher at another school through Novopay processes without the proper authorisation.

Yesterday's seminar for Palmerston North and Manawatu schools' staff started just hours after a declaration from Prime Minister John Key that if payroll problems were not fixed the company responsible for administering the system could face financial penalties.

"Talent 2 worked on [Novopay] for a long time, it's a big project," Mr Key said.

"The Government's paid them a lot of money and they should have got that all right.

"A lot has been fixed up, but not enough. So to those teachers who haven't been paid and are owed backpay, that is unacceptable because people rely on their pay to pay their bills."

The responsibility for the system has been handed from Education Minister Hekia Parata to Associate Education Minister Craig Foss.

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- Manawatu Standard

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