Retired teacher's Novopay impasse finally resolved

MICHELE ONG
Last updated 05:00 27/02/2014
Pip Abernethy
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ
NOVOPAY VICTIM: Former teacher Pip Abernethy knows the stress of dealing with Novopay after she was incorrectly paid when she retired.

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Pip Abernethy can enjoy her retirement knowing she no longer has a certain debt to shoulder.

For the past two months, the constant worry on the former teacher's mind was repaying the remaining $400 which she owed New Plymouth Boys' High School.

Ms Abernethy's problems started when software system Novopay short paid her by $2000 when she retired last year.

New Plymouth Boys' High School stepped in with the money and she was about to repay the loan when Novopay paid up.

However, she received only $1600, along with a message saying the rest would come from Inland Revenue.

But IRD said the issue was not its problem and Novopay was responsible for the shortfall.

Desperate for a resolution, Ms Abernethy contacted New Plymouth MP Jonathan Young in December for help and was assured the matter would be fixed.

So Ms Abernethy thought everything was in control.

Until the school rang her early this month to ask for the outstanding sum as it needed to balance its books.

"I told them I was no longer on their payroll, I have retired," Ms Abernethy said. "And no one had contacted me about it."

She gave Mr Young's office a follow-up call on February 13 to inquire about the matter and was again told the problem would "definitely be sorted out".

"They said I'll phone you back at the end of the day with the outcome and where the money's going to be," she said. "But they didn't call me back."

Ms Abernethy said the situation left her "very angry". "If teachers failed to follow-up on concerns and showed so little regard for the people they serve, they would be sacked," she said. "But in Government, not one head has rolled over this mess."

Teachers could not speak up for themselves, Ms Abernethy said. "They're employed by the Government. They're not allowed to go public with their problems."

When the Daily News rang Mr Young for comment, he said someone from the Education Ministry had been in contact with both Ms Abernethy and also the school.

NZEI membership and finance general manager Andrew Casidy said the impact Novopay had had on the education community was complicated.

"For example, there was one principal who had four unpaid staff despite the correct paperwork. He ended up spending 150 hours sorting it all," Mr Casidy said.

He said NZEI's call centre was fielding up to 100 calls per week from principals, teachers and staff members.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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