Novopay troubles just won't go away

GERMARI HERSELMAN
Last updated 08:56 14/05/2014

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Teachers in Marlborough are still not being paid correctly almost two years after the Novopay debacle began.

The web-based payroll system is still wreaking havoc on teachers' pay cheques, paying them either too much money, too little, or nothing at all.

Secondary teachers' union regional chair Cheryl Nesbit said the Novopay system was still causing problems for most schools in the region almost two years after its August 2012 launch.

"We have permanent teachers being paid as part-time, and part-time as permanent. Some teachers are not paid at all. Generally the school then pays them so they can meet their commitments."

The incorrect wages also created complications with tax, superannuation and union deductions, Nesbit said.

One of her members discovered at their last meeting that her union membership payment had been stopped and that she was no longer a member. It was fixable, but unnecessary and a waste of time, Nesbit said.

Marlborough Boys' College principal Wayne Hegarty said the system was extremely frustrating to work with.

The school had fewer mistakes than at the start, but mistakes were still made regularly. "It is a very real concern for us . . . you would think a $40 million system would work better."

We are fortunate enough as a bigger school to have a fulltime person to help resolve payroll issues, but I feel for the smaller schools that don't and have to find the time in an already busy schedule."

Marlborough Girls' College principal Karen Stewart confirmed teachers at the college were still experiencing difficulties on a regular basis. "We have to monitor all payments very carefully to ensure no errors sneak through - it wastes a lot of time," she said.

Queen Charlotte College principal Tom Parsons was relieved that, as a smaller school, its problems with the system were starting to taper off.

He felt the system would never be perfect, dealing with more than 100,000 different wage packets, but it could definitely do better.

"Thankfully we haven't had any issues in the last few weeks, but we will continue to keep a close eye on it."

Novopay processes the pay of 110,000 teaching and support staff at 2457 schools in New Zealand.

The minister responsible for Novopay, Steven Joyce, said work continued to improve the delivery of the school payroll system, including planned revisions to the service centre model and resolving outstanding overpayments and leave balances.

"We've listened to what school payroll administrators, principals and sector leaders have been saying about the service centre and its performance - especially during the start of the year - and we're using their feedback to shape how we improve it.

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"We appreciate that schools have been frustrated by some delays in receiving this information.

"The ministry has apologised to them and has provided additional support to help them work through this process."

The Ministry of Education purchased the system for $182 million over 10 years, with an initial $40 million outlay in August 2012.

- The Marlborough Express

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