'Bad dream' Novopay problems continue

KATE CHAPMAN
Last updated 05:00 11/01/2013

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New errors have emerged from Novopay's latest pay round, including mistakes in the calculation of schools' staffing entitlements.

A principal was dismayed to be told his school owed the Ministry of Education $30,000 after it was $15,000 in the black before the Christmas break.

The ministry said it was working with schools to prepare for the start-of-year process, which must be completed by Monday. This includes restarting staff on the payroll.

However, errors were reported the day after the latest pay round on Tuesday night.

Rebecca Elvy, the ministry's group manager education workforce, said 61,000 people were successfully paid in this week's pay run but there were a "small number of individual issues".

Those were being worked through, she said. "There have not been any further issues relating to this week's pay run."

Post Primary Teachers' Association president Robin Duff said the Novopay debacle "goes on like a bad dream".

There were reports of errors after this week's pay round, he said.

Mistakes largely involved staff with changes in their pay slips, such as relief teachers, or those on sick leave.

Principals' Federation president Philip Harding said a new problem had emerged in the Novopay system responsible for measuring staffing levels.

Schools that did not use their whole entitlement were eligible for a payout from the ministry and those who had exceeded it had to repay the balance.

An Auckland principal, who did not want to be named, had $15,000 owed to his school before Christmas.

Novopay now said he owed the ministry $30,000.

Mr Harding said his own school's balance was still recorded correctly. But the random nature of Novopay problems was worrying.

"We can't wait for the inquiry in April, we need someone to tell us right now whether we are flogging a dead horse or whether this corpse can be brought back to life."

Yesterday the ministry announced financial support for schools that were forced to pay staff out of their operational budgets.

But Labour MP Chris Hipkins said the offer of financial support was cold comfort for schools facing a continuing mess.

"The cost of overpayments made by Novopay is just one of a number of extra expenses these schools are facing."

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- Fairfax Media

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