Stress builds over Novopay debacle

'I really, really need to be paid'

LEIGHTON KEITH
Last updated 05:00 08/02/2013
tdn teach stand
ROBERT CHARLES
PAY PROBLEMS: New Plymouth Girls’ High School English teacher Suzanne Blackwell was not paid this week as the ongoing problems with the Novopay system continue.

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A Taranaki principal is asking how long it will be before the problem-plagued Novopay system starts to affect the performance of teachers in the classroom.

Errors for this pay period affected about one third, 40 staff, at New Plymouth Girls' High School. Principal Jenny Ellis said she could feel the stress and tension building.

"Twelve of those didn't receive any pay at all," Mrs Ellis said.

It was a similar story at Waitara Central Primary School, which has 17 staff, with 10 errors, including four teachers who were not paid at all, principal Sharren Read said.

Mrs Ellis said that although teachers tried to remain professional the problems could affect their performance in the classroom.

"It is bound to have an impact, if people are really stressed. Our staff, I think, have been really understanding but obviously it has really affected a huge number of them."

English teacher Suzanne Blackwell was one of the worst affected this pay period.

"I have received no pay this week, I have a mortgage, I have to eat and I live in Stratford so I've got travel costs," Ms Blackwell said. "I'm down to my last pennies and I have a mortgage due this afternoon."

Ms Blackwell returned to teaching only this year after studying in Wellington last year and was surprised that problems with the system had not been resolved.

"I think I was angry; I was quite disturbed that after a year it was still making mistakes like this," she said.

"I really, really need to be paid." Mrs Ellis said the school yesterday deposited money from its operations budget into the accounts of teachers who had not been paid.

"It's the least we can do."

She said some schools which were not as well-resourced would not have been able to do that.

Mrs Ellis said she was surprised by the number of mistakes the system was producing.

"You just can't explain some of the errors," she said.

She said there were errors dating back to August that hadn't been fixed.

The errors spilt into staff tax rates, leave entitlements, superannuation, KiwiSaver contributions and holiday pay, in some cases the amounts shown on pay slips did not match deposits made into bank accounts.

Mrs Ellis said the problems were compounded because schools couldn't access the correct information online.

However, she was pleased moves were finally being made to fix the system.

"It should have happened much earlier. They left it too long before they took the action that was needed."

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Mrs Read described the system as a nightmare and said the school had one issue that dated back to September which had seven different reference numbers.

"That's how many times we have talked to them and they've reassured us it has been resolved."

Mrs Read had no confidence the system would be able to be fixed quickly.

"It's far too big, there are too many problems," she said.

- Taranaki Daily News

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