Novopay school staff shambles goes on

JONATHAN CARSON
Last updated 05:00 03/11/2012

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There have been hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of mispayments to school staff under the Novopay system and Waikato principals say the problems are ongoing.

Figures obtained under the Official Information Act show that, in the four pay cycles since the system was introduced in August, there were 8673 cases of school staff being either overpaid, underpaid, paid at the wrong rate or not at all.

In the latest pay, on October 31, 221 people were underpaid or not paid, an increase of 157 cases from the previous cycle.

In the first two pay runs there was $240,999 worth of mispayments, which have forced some people to miss mortgage and hire purchase payments, take out overdrafts with their banks, rack up credit card debt and seek medical help for stress and insomnia.

It took the ministry 22 working days to provide the information, despite law stating it must be provided within 20 working days, or "as soon as reasonably practicable". The ministry also refused to provide a breakdown for Waikato school staff as it would "entail substantial additional work".

Novopay business owner Rebecca Elvy said she was disappointed with the latest spike in pay problems, but it was still a reduction from the first two cycles.

Waikato Principals' Association chair John Coulam said, while the "worst-case scenarios" were being resolved, schools were still having issues.

He had heard about teachers receiving other staff members' payslips, which could be considered a breach of privacy. He said the system was "a shambles" and should never have been introduced when it was.

A review, released by the ministry in November 2010, said the Novopay service had been delayed to "ensure that the system has been fully tailored to meet the complex needs of the [old] payroll and to allow sufficient time for extensive and robust testing to take place".

The ministry has employed more staff to work with Novopay, and has offered extra training. Hamilton training will be held at Fairfield Intermediate next Wednesday at 9.30am.

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- Waikato Times

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