Christmas work to sort out Novopay problems

KELSEY FLETCHER
Last updated 10:41 21/12/2012

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School pay officers will be working into their Christmas holidays after staff overnight received more error-ridden payments from Novopay.

The most recent holiday pay period was brought forward by the Education Ministry to avoid potential delays.

A ministry spokesperson said earlier this week there would be fewer issues, but today it emerged that staff  had again had problems.
Principals Federation president Paul Drummond said this morning it was grossly unacceptable that school staff should be fixing these errors in the days leading up to Christmas.

"Given already the evidence we've had from principals around the country, this pay period was similar, not worse, and there were large overpayments and incorrect holiday pays," he said. "We had two teacher aides who had not worked for us all year, paid $4000 each."

Drummond said common cases are people who have been paid holiday pay for working at schools they don't even work at, or have been treated as full-time staff.

Bigger schools would not necessarily default on support staff payments but the problem was recovering the money, particularly the tax payments.

Drummond said the ministry wasn't able to give much of an answer when asked about recovering tax for the staff overpayments or for paying teaching staff who had fallen through Novopay's cracks.

"Schools are going to have to do that themselves," he said. "It's going to be case by case, software isn't going to do it, it's going to take people power and that's going to be extremely draining on schools.

"The reconciliation for teacher salaries, staff use and support staff is going to be horrendous and hugely problematic and time consuming."

Drummond said there needed to be an audit of Novopay, as well as an independent review.

"I don't know now whether the ministry truly knows how bad it is," he said. "What we are getting now is conflicting perceptions, what we need is an independent person coming in and saying this is what's happening.

"We're tired of the assurances, they are understating the problems in our view and overstating the fixes."

Labour associate education spokesperson Chis Hipkins said this morning it was time to seriously ask whether Novopay would ever be able to deliver.

"These problems just keep going on and on," he said. "Immediately after Christmas we will be getting the first pay back and that will be just as complicated as the pre-Christmas pay that has turned into such as nightmare.

"I think it's time for the minsters Craig Foss and Hekia Parata to be saying, is this system ever going to deliver what it's supposed to and if not, then they need to ask whether they ditch it and go back to the old system or a different system."

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