Picton relief teacher's $9000 overpayment "not a big deal'

Last updated 11:00 20/11/2012

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A relief teacher at Queen Charlotte College in Picton has been overpaid $9000 by Novopay, the problem-ridden $30 million teachers' pay system introduced by the Education Ministry.

Speaking from Wellington on Thursday after meeting Education Minister Hekia Parata to discuss the pay system, Queen Charlotte College principal and Secondary Principals' Association vice-president Tom Parsons said the overpayment of the relief teacher had been a clerical error.

"We're investigating whether it was a finger problem at our end or at the Novopay end," he said.

It was the second-biggest pay mishap at the college under the new pay system, the first being an overpayment of "a couple of thousand" to another relief teacher.

However, Mr Parsons said it was not a big deal and, to his knowledge, had since been resolved.

Kicking up a fuss about Novopay was not going to resolve the pay problems any sooner, he said.

"Many of the people who are complaining are just doing it for their three seconds of fame."

Schools had to be positive about Novopay, despite all the administrative problems they had faced, Mr Parsons said.

"We've got to work with the system we've got and get it right," he said. "Sure, we've had some issues but we've corrected those issues promptly."

Novopay has been a growing source of frustration for teachers, principals and administration staff. While many teachers have been paid either too little or too much and given incorrect leave entitlement, some schools have had to step in and cover pay shortfalls out of their own operational budgets.

Whitney Street School, in Blenheim, had to dip into its operational fund to pay two teaching staff, one for a study grant and the other for an ACC claim. A third staff member had been overpaid about $3000.

School principal Alan Straker described Novopay as a frustrating, time-consuming, "mickey mouse" pay system.

"I know it will eventually be replaced, but we haven't been told when," he said.

Tua Marina School office administrator Rochelle Mawson shared Mr Straker's sentiments. She contacted the Novopay helpdesk 20 times, either calling or emailing, to get a study leave code so one of the teaching staff could be paid correctly.

"The thing that got really frustrating was when I asked to speak to the team leader . . . she said she was too busy doing her job to speak to me, which I thought was really funny because I am her job."

Mrs Mawson said it took about two weeks for phone calls and emails to be returned by a team leader who was still unable to provide the code.

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Other staff had received the wrong pay for their leave and one teacher had not received 14 days' holiday pay of more than $2000.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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