Principals optimistic Novopay will improve

Southern principals are optimistic Novopay problems will ease after the Government takes over the plagued system.

The Government announced yesterday it would take over the school payroll system from October, after the company running it refused to pay more to fix it.

Novopay has been beset by problems since it was installed in 2012, with teachers complaining of being underpaid, overpaid and not paid at all.

A new Government-owned company will take over responsibility for payroll processing and service centre activities, and for further customisation of the software.

Talent2, the company which designed and administers the system, will pay between $18 million and $22m compensation in cash and discounted services.

The taxpayer will fork out an additional $9m over six years to use the software.

Steven Joyce, the minister in charge of fixing Novopay, said the new company would aim to make it easier for teachers to deal with salary matters and the system would be made less complex.

Taking over gave the Government greater flexibility to make changes to improve the system, though there was a "significant possibility" the service could be contracted out again in the future, he said.

Yesterday's announcement came as a surprise for many southern schools, with many still experiencing problems.

Southland Primary Principals' Association president Wendy Ryan welcomed the news, saying it showed the Government was taking the problems seriously.

The general public seemed to believe Novopay was fixed, but most educators were still unsure if they would be paid each fortnight, she said.

"Not many other people would have to deal with that in their employment."

Aparima College principal Kaye Day said the school was still experiencing regular headaches with the system, with minor tasks, such as entering a day's sick leave, creating weeks of extra work.

However, she did not believe the Government would take on the Novopay challenge if it did not have something workable in place.

It was too early to say if the change would improve the system, but she hoped it would relieve pressure on school payroll staff, she said.

Others were not as convinced by the move.

Donovan School principal Peter Hopwood said if the Government was intending to take over Novopay, it should have done it "a long time ago"

Novopay had been working better during the past few pay periods, and planned changes to reporting were expected to make things easier, he said.

The Southland Times