Teachers' pay woes continue

ADAM ROBERTS
Last updated 12:00 17/11/2012

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Nelson teachers are continuing to be affected by the ongoing Ministry of Education's payroll botch-up, with a privacy issue among the latest problems.

A Waikato school revealed yesterday it has had the names and personal details of 12 Nelson teachers added to its payroll under the error-ridden Novopay system..

Rosemary Hendrikse, principal of Manawaru School in Te Aroha, discovered the teachers' names on the school's Novopay report in September and has since been in "backwards and forwards" correspondence with Novopay to sort out the error.

She was assured the names would be gone on Wednesday, but when they were still there, Ms Hendrikse clicked on them only to find details including personal addresses, cellphone numbers and bank details for each of them.

"It was all the things you give to an employer that are supposed to remain confidential, sitting there for us to see. And they had no idea. It's really not good enough, you trust that your details are going to remain confidential and for it not to be so is a worry."

It wasn't until she contacted her local MP Scott Simpson, who in turn contacted the Ministry of Education calling for an immediate investigation that the problem was able to be fixed.

Group manager and Novopay business owner Rebecca Elvy said the issue had been fixed last night and apologised to both schools, citing human error at system operators Talent2's processing centre.

"The ministry takes the issue of privacy extremely seriously. Any breach will be thoroughly investigated. We are disappointed Talent2 did not act immediately in this case and are following this up with them," she said.

Nelson principals and staff are growing increasingly frustrated with the three-month old Novopay system- and nervous as the deadline for end-of-year payments approaches.

Richmond Primary School principal Tim Brenton said his school was still having issues, mainly with miscalculated payments.

Several teachers had received an allowance for 43 days of work rather than the 43 hours they were owed.

Another teacher had been working fulltime since the beginning of the term and had still not been paid.

Novopay should pay for the hassle and frustrations caused by the errors, he said.

Waimea Intermediate principal Cleve Shearer said the process had been "amazingly frustrating" and "an absolute waste of time".

He estimated staff had spent an extra 40 to 60 hours working through fixing various errors, and this was the first pay cycle where the school had no errors.

He was also concerned that the system would struggle when it came time to process end-of-year and start-of-year payments in the next month.

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Lower Moutere School principal Barbara Bowen said after starting relatively successfully with Novopay and trying to be as positive as possible, the school now had several unresolved issues and had lost confidence in the system.

She was particularly concerned at how the system would cope with end-of-year and start-of-year payments coming up.

It was a real concern that staff were having to even think about this during such a busy time of year, she said.

"It is a distraction away from our real business of teaching and learning and ultimately must be affecting children as staff morale and time is eroded."

School administration staff were suffering the most.

"They are the meat in the sandwich between Novopay, the ministry, principals and school staff and have a myriad of other roles to fulfil which are just impossible to juggle with the time having to be spent on Novopay.

"There are some very stressed and frustrated people out there."

Waimea College had 11 ongoing issues, which resource manager Diane Chapman said was "pretty good" for a staff of 180.

The issues were a mix of both under and over payment and relate to both teaching and support staff, and were slowly getting fixed, she said.

"A frustrating part is that each pay run throws up a different issue which needs resolution," she said.

The ministry said it would continue to make additional resources available to give schools the support they needed, particularly in terms of end-of-year and start-of-year reports.

Novopay developers Talent2 had also increased its resourcing.

- with Fairfax

- The Nelson Mail

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