Principals fear more pay errors

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 12:00 24/12/2013
steven joyce
STEVEN JOYCE: Minister responsible for Novopay.

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Principals still frustrated by problems with the troubled teacher pay system Novopay say staff could be left out of pocket over the summer break.

More than a year after the education payroll system went live, school staff say they are still not happy about the time and effort required to use it and they have been keeping their fingers crossed their festive season pay went through on Saturday.

Principals say problems with staffing reports, sick leave records, annual leave balances, KiwiSaver contributions and tax issues remain rife in Manawatu.

The end-of-year, start-of-year pay process is the latest concern, with school staffers expecting problems following last year's experience.

The latest few pay cycles saw the payroll system take a performance dip in terms of the complaints and notifications filed to the Ministry of Education.

Government figures show the complaints rate was under 0.2 per cent from the previous pay cycle, but this ranked as the worst it has been in the last four pay periods.

The number of schools affected has risen from 62 to 111 over the last two pay cycles and the complaint rate has jumped from 0.079 per cent to 0.19 per cent.

Novopay Minister Steven Joyce has said the rate is a positive result compared to the problems being experienced a year ago and problems were expected due to end-of-year pay period complexities.

"The next big challenge for the new year will be ensuring that pay periods for the start of the year process run smoothly," he said.

"While issues still remain, the ministry and Talent2 have put in significant effort and resources into improving both the Novopay system and communication with schools and their representatives."

But Apiti School principal Mary Cuming said communication was poor and the system seemed understaffed, meaning it was "impossible" to get phone help.

Apiti was given face-to-face training for the end-of-year, start-of-year process, but there were still issues for some staff members' codes, like the school's pool attendant.

"The people who were overpaid and have paid it back never got any thanks or comment. Their accountants are still dealing with the KiwiSaver and tax problems associated with these over-payments and the people who were overpaid are not treated well," she said.

Palmerston North Boys' High School rector David Bovey said while there were few wrong payments, the complexity of Novopay was still creating problems.

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"Novopay continues to be irksome. There are some issues, not the least of which is the amount of time it takes to resolve or indeed even acknowledge a problem."

But Palmerston North Girls' High School principal Melba Scott said things had improved tenfold since last year, with fortnightly errors down to one or two.

- Manawatu Standard

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