Novopay continues to cause mayhem

ADAM ROBERTS
Last updated 13:00 20/12/2012

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A Hampden Street School teacher aide whose bizarre end-of-year payslip included pay-rates ranging from $1426 an hour to negative-$5200 an hour, says Novopay must have schizophrenia.

The strange pay breakdown is the latest example of the beleaguered new payroll system, introduced in August, which has seen some school staff paid nothing, and others accidentally paid too much.

A recent New Zealand Principals Federation survey of more than 900 schools across the country saw 83 per cent report that at least one staff member was being paid incorrectly by the Ministry of Education's new payroll system.

In November that figure was 59.6 per cent.

NZPF president Paul Drummond said the system was fundamentally flawed, and the ministry should reinstate payroll support staff for each school, while specialist technicians were brought in to fix Novopay, he said.

At Nelson's Hampden Street School, teacher aide Grace Saunders said she had an end-of-year payslip that included references to her being paid according to an $800 an hour payrate, a $1426.667 an hour payrate, and a minus-$5200 per hour pay rate.

"Novopay has schizophrenia, it makes no sense at all," Ms Saunders said.

She thought the overall pay that entered her bank account was correct, but it was hard to tell as this was her first year working at the school.

"We can't even check it because it makes so little sense."

Her main concern was that if she had been overpaid she would then owe the ministry money.

Principal Don McLean said there was no way of knowing whether the payslip was correct, as it was impossible to understand what all the different pay rates referred to.

"I hope and trust that it's going to be right but I don't really have much faith that it will be," he said.

The payslip was just one example of the ongoing confusion caused by the payroll system, he said.

Another staff member had been paid twice as much as he should have, and the school's caretaker had not been paid correctly since Novopay was first introduced.

"To me it's beyond a joke, it's people's lives and their money."

Nelson College headmaster Gary O'Shea said his school was still struggling with payment errors.

"It's been a disaster, that's an understatement."

None of the school's 40 support staff had been paid correctly for their end-of-year pay, with errors ranging from being overpaid to receiving no pay at all.

In one case, a support staff member had been underpaid one week, overpaid the next, then received a debt collection agency letter requesting the overdue amount.

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Other staff had been paid for part-time work at another school, when no such work had been done.

The school still had errors going back to when the system was first introduced.

Mr O'Shea said the school would not be able to sign off on its accounts for the end of the year because it would not be able to account for the money spent.

The start of the year payments would be even worse, because many staff members moved to different schools or changed their position within the school.

Although the old system had not been perfect, people had been paid correctly, he said. "It was a three-legged horse but at least it pulled a cart."

Nelson Intermediate School principal Hugh Gully said Novopay had continued to be a nightmare and was getting worse.

He had spent four hours trying to organise the school's start-of-year pay for next year, and after repeated error messages and bugs with the online system he had given up.

Under the old system this form took him about one hour, he said.

- The Nelson Mail

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