Ministry plans to fire payroll staff shock MPs

KATE CHAPMAN
Last updated 05:00 17/11/2012

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The Education Ministry has defended plans to lay off staff dealing with payroll problems once the besieged Novopay system is running smoothly.

Associate Education Minister Craig Foss said earlier this week that he was "utterly flabbergasted" by the decision to sack payroll staff.

The Government has had to answer questions after continued serious errors in the processing of pay for teachers and other school workers.

The ministry has announced plans to cut nine jobs next year once the Novopay system, run by HR company Talent2, is working well.

Ministry group manager Rebecca Elvy said the ministry had doubled the number of dedicated payroll staff to help iron out problems with Novopay.

"We will continue over coming months to have the additional resources required to give schools the support they need, particularly in terms of the end-of-year and start-of-year reports."

But the move to Novopay meant the ministry's own payroll requirements had to be reviewed, she said.

Current staff would retain their roles for now and no final decision would be made until next year.

"We have always intended to continue with current staffing during implementation . . . At the same time, we also needed to make sure we will have the right mix of skills and roles that would be required for Novopay in the longer term."

Staff were advised in October that there would be a review and a proposal was put to them earlier this month.

"[A] final decision will not be made until we have confidence that Novopay implementation issues have been addressed."

Labour's Chris Hipkins said it defied belief that the ministry would begin a restructure involving the same people tasked with fixing the Novopay mess.

It also showed Mr Foss was not in control of his portfolio, he said.

"Those waiting to be paid want to know someone in Government is taking control. If Craig Foss isn't up to the job he should step aside and hand it over to someone who is."

Mr Foss did not comment further yesterday and he does not have responsibility for staffing at the ministry, which remains under Education Minister Hekia Parata.

NZ First MP Tracey Martin said the ministry's decision was "beyond madness". "The continual disruption since the rollout of Novopay has increased the school administration workload and the ministry is now going to slash backroom ministry staff."

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- The Dominion Post

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