More Novopay pain awaited

CHARLEY MANN AND FAIRFAX
Last updated 05:00 29/01/2013
STEVEN JOYCE
Steven Joyce

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The Government is bracing itself for more Novopay pain.

Senior Government minister Steven Joyce yesterday conceded next week's pay round could be the most difficult yet.

"There are so many new things happening, including a new teachers' collective agreement for secondary schools. It's going to be pretty challenging that one . . . and I think it's going to be difficult for everyone involved."

Problems with the Novopay system have resulted in some school staff going without pay for months.

Schools have had to cover the missing pay cheques themselves.

They have also had to assign people to try to sort out the payroll problems.

Joyce, put in charge of fixing the Novopay debacle, said schools and principals were frustrated and he could understand why.

He was aware of several "significant" bugs in the system, administered by Talent2, but could not confirm suggestions those bugs may be in the hundreds.

He was reluctant to expand on the options being considered by the Government.

Scrapping Talent2's contract is one option but the Government has suggested that is unlikely.

Meanwhile, other Government departments say they will help teachers who have missed out on vital payments because of the Ministry of Education's controversial Novopay system.

A glitch in the $29 million system means payments are not being made to the ACC, superannuation funds, KiwiSaver and student loans, despite being taken out of wages and listed on payslips.

In some cases, child support payments are not reaching their recipients.

ACC general manager for insurance and prevention services John Beaglehole yesterday told The Press teachers would not be penalised because of Novopay glitches.

"The Novopay issues have no effect whatsoever on whether ACC will provide cover for injury as a result of accident," he said. "If a teacher is injured at work, they will receive the full range of appropriate ACC support and entitlements."

Inland Revenue said it would not penalise teachers whose child support was affected by Novopay.

"We offer assistance to any employer or employee who believes that compliance with their tax obligations has been disrupted so they are not disadvantaged," it said.

Last night, however, Ministry of Education group manager for education workforce Rebecca Elvy said "initial problems involving payments to third parties such as IRD have now been resolved".

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"The ministry has assured schools that all payments have been processed. No-one will have been financially disadvantaged. There is often a lag between payments being made and showing up on the records of schemes such as KiwiSaver. This is unrelated to Novopay."

The Post Primary Teachers' Association found Novopay had not been directing some members' fees to the organisation, despite deducting money from their wages.

"If they want representation [in a union], they have to be a member but if fees have not been paid, have they still been qualified for membership?" president Robin Duff said.

- The Press

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