Novopay howlers keep on coming

Last updated 13:00 07/02/2013

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The Novopay payroll system has been labelled "a dog" and "a disaster" by Nelson principals, after another pay round which saw as many as 50 errors for a single school.

The Education Ministry fielded hundreds of calls from school staff either not paid or underpaid by Novopay yesterday, but more were expected today after school resumed.

A ministry hotline set up to take calls from teachers unable to contact pay administrators on Waitangi Day had received 266 calls by 2pm. Another 88 had contacted the payroll company, Talent 2, directly by midday.

Principals' Federation president Philip Harding was not surprised by the number of calls for help, but was "expecting carnage tomorrow" when teachers returned to school to inform their principals.

He had heard from one "very upset" school principal who had recorded 30 errors.

Payments totalling $143,872,810.73 were made on Tuesday night to 74,373 school staff in the first major pay cycle for the new school year, when many teachers begin new roles.

Ministry group manager Rebecca Elvy said while it was always a challenging time of year, more issues were expected because of Novopay.

Errors were expected to run to the "many hundreds".

"With a few exceptions, the calls have been about staff not being paid or being significantly underpaid."

The ministry had major banks process 60 direct payments yesterday, despite the public holiday, and would continue to do so as needed.

A report on the latest complaints would be compiled for the minister responsible for Novopay, Steven Joyce.

"Once again we apologise to staff who have been affected and assure schools we are treating errors as a matter of urgency," Ms Elvy said.

Henley School principal John Armstrong said a number of fixed term staff did not get paid through the Novopay system, and the school advanced them their pay.

The school had also had staff working on both Nelson Anniversary Day and Waitangi Day in an effort to ensure staff got paid.

"These are staff with mortgages and families."

There were numerous other errors and they seemed to be compounding with each pay run, he said.

"The system is a 'dog'. It is taking up valuable time and resources that should be going towards the children."

The school now had a staff member who spent their entire week dealing with payroll.

"Quite frankly, principals and school executive officers have had a gutsful. It is not what we got into teaching for."

Nelson College headmaster Gary O'Shea said his school had 50 payroll errors "and counting", labelling the pay round "a disaster".

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Waimea College principal Larry Ching said about 30 per cent of its teaching and support staff had been affected in the latest pay round - the largest number of errors to date.

"We have had underpayments, overpayments and no payments," he said.

Mr Ching said no staff have been disadvantaged as the college was paying those affected from its operational funding in the interim.

Nayland College deputy principal Richard Wilkins said his school had so far identified 25 Novopay issues, but there may be more they had yet to uncover.

"It's going to take quite a bit of time to actually unravel that."

Richmond Primary School principal Tim Brenton said the school's administration officer had not been paid, and there were a number of unresolved overpayments.

The Novopay system had resulted in many hours of extra work for administration staff.

- The Nelson Mail

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