Pay problems spark call for reform

HAMISH RUTHERFORD
Last updated 12:40 11/02/2014

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Novopay Minister Steven Joyce is blaming antiquated processes in the education sector for a rise in mistakes in teachers' pay at the start of the school year.

Joyce has not yet released data on the number of teachers who have been overpaid, underpaid or not paid in the first weeks of the school year. He expects to release the data today.

The number of problems had risen and they did not appear to be directly related to Novopay - the subject of a ministerial inquiry last year because of major and ongoing problems with payments to teachers, he said.

Instead, they had to do with a huge amount of pointless data entry required at the start of every school year.

"Certainly there's been ... a higher number of issues than what we've seen in previous pay periods, which were more down to the start of year process where a large amount of data has to be entered by everybody across the system in a short space of time," Joyce said this morning.

"Unfortunately that does create issues irrespective of the status of ... the software."

It was time to reform other parts of the education system to prevent this happening again, he said.

"There's a huge amount of work that has to be done, which can only be described as 'make work', where people who stay at school have to be taken off the roll at the end of one year, and put back on at the start of the next," Joyce said.

"Somebody who is not too close to the system might struggle with that and say 'why are we doing that' and I certainly have that question."

The Novopay software was now "broadly stable" so the focus should turn to how much of the administration which caused the latest work was necessary.

Some of the work was conducted "for reasons known only to the education system and largely lost in the mists of time".

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