Novopay debt casts pall over retirement

TARYN UTIGER
Last updated 05:00 14/12/2013
Pip Abernethy stand
CHARLOTTE CURD
Pip Abernethy

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The latest in a long string of Novopay debacles has left a retiring Taranaki teacher with an outstanding debt.

Pip Abernethy, 65, retired from New Plymouth Boys' High School yesterday owing the school money which had been lent to her after the Ministry of Education failed to pay her an instalment of her wages in October.

"I was still working but Novopay just didn't pay me," the resource, learning and behaviour teacher said.

When Ms Abernethy went to the Boys' High payroll officer to report the problem the school offered to lend her the $2000 that was missing from her bank account.

She was meant to pay the money back when the mistake was fixed.

However, she only received $1600 along with a message from Novopay saying the Inland Revenue Department would have to give her the rest.

"But the IRD have told me it's definitely not their fault, and Novopay should be paying me the money," she said.

The remaining $400 had to be paid back yesterday and despite assurances from Novopay representatives and New Plymouth MP Jonathan Young that she would have the money this week, Ms Abernethy did not get it.

"I know Boys' High won't take me to court, and I could pay it from my Christmas pay, but it's the principle of the matter really.

"In my 40 years of teaching I was always paid correctly, until these last two years. It's become very tiresome."

The controversial teacher pay system has received wide spread criticism since its introduction 17 months ago, and has left a string of unhappy teachers in its wake.

In March the minister in charge of Novopay, Steven Joyce announced a $6 million support package to help schools meet the extra costs incurred as a result of the unreliable system.

Last night Mr Young told the Taranaki Daily News Ms Abernethy phoned him on Wednesday and immediately after their conversation he contacted Mr Joyce's office.

Someone from the minister's office had begun working on the issue on the same day, he said.

A representative had been in touch with Ms Abernethy and advised her that the problem would be sorted as soon as possible.

"We got a fantastic response," Mr Young said.

He believed it was now just a matter of waiting for the wheels to turn.

"I've been reassured by the minister's office a number of times that the remaining complaints surrounding Novopay are being dealt with."

Ms Abernethy was hoping the issue could now be sorted out between Boys' High School and the Ministry of Education.

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She wants to begin enjoying her retirement without a shadow hanging over her, she said.

- Taranaki Daily News

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