Novopay bungles still causing grief

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
Last updated 05:00 14/02/2014

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School principals are at breaking point as Novopay botches the pay of about six staff per school each pay round.

Eighteen months since its launch, the school payroll system is still distracting principals and office staff from their jobs and they want an end to it.

Margaret Dodds, principal of Waitaha School in Christchurch, had to drop everything to help her assistant deal with Novopay errors that had become as bad as when the error-prone payroll system was first introduced in August 2012.

"Eighteen months down the track, we're still going over exactly the same ground. For an online system, it's just nonsense."

Inconsistent errors had become "unmanageable" and compounded so much, they had to start a spreadsheet to include the two pages of errors so far this year.

Novopay had yet to resolve an error from December 2012, when the school was owed money for being wrongly taxed for a payment never made.

The 30-staff school needed to pay someone to pick up the jobs they were unable to do because each pay period took about 40 hours of checking and form filling.

"There's no end in sight. I'm quite stressed about it."

Principals' Federation president Phil Harding was fielding calls from "fed up" colleagues.

A survey of 714 principals found that about six staff per school were paid incorrectly each round, and 66.3 per cent still had unresolved problems from last year.

There were 4220 people paid incorrectly based on information from 670 principals alone.

"We always expect the first pay round of the year to be a bit challenging but this error rate is way beyond anything we imagined."

Minister Responsible for Novopay Steven Joyce said complaints in the latest pay period related to .69 per cent of staff across the country. There were 234 staff not paid, 107 overpaid, and 175 underpaid - from 11 per cent of schools in the payroll system.

The performance was "not as good as we've recently been experiencing", but it was its first time above the acceptable error level since April last year, he said.

It was blamed on data entry errors rather than a software error. "In regards to Waitaha School, the Ministry has made contact with the principal yesterday and today to help resolve all its outstanding issues and has offered further assistance."

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