Headmaster joins his troops in the Novopay trenches
Novopay may be slowly improving, but backlogged problems remain unresolved and principals are beginning to worry what will happen with the complex and fast-approaching end-of-year payroll.
Nelson College headmaster Gary O'Shea said that he has not been paid correctly since April 8, after a new collective contract for New Zealand school principals took effect.
That contract had entitled Mr O'Shea to a modest pay-rise, but he has been consistently underpaid since the deal was signed.
Though frustrated with the ongoing saga, calling it "ridiculous", Mr O'Shea could see the amusing side for his staff - that the headmaster himself had "joined them in the trenches" in the struggle against the embattled Novopay.
Novopay Minister Steven Joyce announced on Monday that 10 of the past 11 pay rounds had fallen within the 0.5 per cent "steady state error level".
This reflected the progress made since the debacle that followed the payroll system rollout a year ago, he said.
The New Zealand Principals' Federation president Philip Harding accepted that the government was trying to fix things, but said much work remained before schools would have confidence in the Novopay payroll.
"Despite the efforts of the ministry over the last few months, principals remain unconvinced that Novopay will ever be fit for purpose", with 67 per cent of [school] respondents still lacking confidence in the software.
"While there is clearly some improvement evident, many school payroll staff continue to struggle, and concern is building already about the end-of-year and start-of-year processes that were such a nightmare last year," Mr Harding said.
Nelson College deputy principal Tim Tucker said it was fair to say that day-to-day payroll operations were better than they were earlier this year, but there was still a backlog of issues that weren't being fixed, and random errors were still occurring.
Mr Tucker said the worst thing about the randomly malfunctioning software was its impact on staff morale, as many employees were still encountering incongruities with their leave entitlements and holiday pay.
Not being sure what you are owed, and having to keep track of your own records, would play heavy on the mind of any employee in any industry, he said.
Finance office staff were valiantly trying to fix issues, but dealing with the Novopay helpdesk was rarely helpful, and not being able to work out problems for staff was frustrating and exasperating for those trying their hardest to smooth out the system's kinks, he said.
Annual leave balances and sick leave are the most troublesome issue at present, closely followed by
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