Good prospects Novopay errors will end - principal

The future is looking more positive for school staff affected by the problem-plagued Novopay system, a Marlborough principal has told other principals around the country.

Queen Charlotte College principal and Secondary School Principal's association head Tom Parsons wrote to the principals to say positive steps were being taken to fix the online system which has seen some teachers miss out on pay and others receive overpayments since its introduction in August last year. The Government is also investigating bringing in an updated version of the old Datacom pay system as an alternative to Novopay.

In the meantime a system had been set up to make sure that no staff member went unpaid and regional support teams would be sent out soon to visit every school to deal with the backlog of staff who had not yet had their pay mistakes fixed. The Government had taken the right long-term approach, making sure the number of errors being found each pay week was "manageable" before dealing with the backlog of affected teachers, he said.

Problems with the system were at a manageable level and a third update to the software was also being tested at the moment to fix errors with the program. Schools needed to be praised for their handling of the problems, having done extremely well supporting school staff though tough times, Mr Parsons said.

While it was extremely stressful for the staff who were wrongly paid, most had not been affected by the system.

The problems with the software had not been helped by the many ways school employees were paid across the country, requiring 10,000 different key combinations and leading to mistakes in data entry, he said.

The previous Datacom system used to pay staff had become too old and had to be replaced. However, questions remained about why problems with Novopay had not been picked up earlier and why the software was rolled out when it wasn't ready. Those would be answered by the ministerial inquiry being led by Sir Maarten Wevers, he said.