Novopay's $200,000 overpayment blunder

More than $200,000 has been overpaid to Southland school employees since Novopay was introduced, with half that amount yet to be recovered.

Information released by the Ministry of Education under the Official Information Act shows a total of $228,489.63 was overpaid to Southland school employees between August 2012, when the Novopay system was introduced, and September this year.

As of September 15, $125,926.88 had yet to be recovered, including a hefty bill of $14,260.44 still owed by one overpaid Southland school employee.

In total, 176 Southland school employees have been overpaid.

The information also reveals 43 school employees in Southland have received a manual payment after being underpaid. A total of $155,311.15 has been manually paid to Southland staff who were underpaid.

Education Payroll Services acting associate deputy secretary Lesley Hoskin said the overpayment total for the period might be higher as there could be overpayments yet to be entered into the debt management system.

The ministry would not divulge how many Southland staff members still had outstanding Novopay issues.

Southland principals admit there has been some progress with the beleaguered pay system, even as new problems occur.

Menzies College principal Gerry Ward said the school had had no issues with Novopay for a long time, but the latest pay cycle yesterday reversed the trend.

The cycle had experienced several small problems, such as staff being paid their travel allowance twice, this week, similar to what happened when Novopay was introduced, he said.

Donovan Primary School principal Peter Hopwood was not surprised by the $200,000 figure, estimating Donovan staff had been overpaid about $11,000.

The school was still dealing with issues from last December, so staff were increasingly worried about the approaching end-of-year pay period, he said.

New River Primary School principal Elaine McCambridge said it was hard to tell if the system was improving.

"It goes in patches. Sometimes it seems like it's getting better and then other times it doesn't."

It was difficult to work out the exact amount overpaid staff owed, as taxes, Kiwisaver and direct debit payments were automatically taken off pay, slowing the repayment process, she said.

Waverley Park School principal Kerry Hawkins said the system seemed to be getting better, but was nowhere near perfect.

He believed the Novopay error rate would improve "at roughly the same rate as I'll get older".

The Government has dedicated at least $17 million to dealing with Novopay issues to date.

The Southland Times