City schools fed up with pay woes

TALIA SHADWELL
Last updated 12:30 13/12/2012

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They're making their lists, checking them twice - Novopay-weary schools preparing to shut up shop for the summer holidays will be placing "correct pay" at the top of their Christmas wishlists.

"Shameful" and a "shambles" were the words of two Palmerston North school principals summing up a frantic four months dealing with glitches in the new $100 million electronic payroll system as they closed their school gates for the year.

Double and triple-checking were on the agenda at Russell St School as final pays came in, principal David Reardon said.

"It's not going smoothly, at all," he said. "We had a woman who did a day's work here only and she didn't get paid by us, she got paid by another school that had never employed her.

"It is shameful, really. We hear all the apologies - left, right and centre - it is just not good enough."

Administrative staff at the school planned to pore through the past six weeks' pay cycles to check everything was correct before they clocked off for summer.

They found support staff were most likely to have been mispaid by the system, with the payroll system calculating wages incorrectly, underpaying, overpaying or not paying staff at all.

Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School principal David Jopson labelled the Novopay system a "shambles" as holiday pay due to be rolled out over two days began to trickle in yesterday.

A support staff member at the school had missed out on holiday pay, while another relief teacher had been overpaid $6000. Another teacher's final pay marked 14 weeks worth of overpayments across seven pay cycles including yesterday, despite Palmerston North Intermediate Normal staff notifying Novopay provider Talent 2 in the first instance of the problem.

"This is meant to be the payroll system of the 21st century," Mr Jopson said. "It is just not working for schools and at this stage they need to sort it out."

Central Normal School principal Shona Oliver said there were still staff at the school who had not been paid at all in yesterday's pay cycle but they had faith it would be sorted out.

"I wouldn't use the word confident; we are hopeful," she said. "The ministry has been working hard to resolve [issues] liaising with schools."

Manawatu Principals' Association chairwoman Debra Peck said the system had improved in the past four months, but staff at schools throughout the region were still experiencing issues.

"Most things have gone through. I know there are still frustrations for various principals over various items, that hasn't gone away. The biggest anomalies they have worked to fix. It is a pain."

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The Ministry of Education did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

- Manawatu Standard

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