School payroll woes test staff

18:47, Oct 24 2012

People not employed by a Timaru school have been paid by the Education Ministry for working there.

It is one of a swathe of errors reported since the ministry switched to the Australian-owned Novopay system last month.

Have you been adversely affected by problems with the Education Ministry's new payroll system? Contact reporter Rosa Studholme on 684 4129 or rosa.studholme@

South Canterbury Principals' Association president David Armstrong, who is principal at Sacred Heart School, said there had been "significant problems" since Novopay was implemented.

"That would be the general statement."

It was at his school that people not on the payroll had been paid.


"Somewhere in the system it's accredited them to us."

He said his school was not having issues with staff not getting paid. "But I believe some [South Canterbury] schools are."

Other problems included form templates not being operational "from the word go". "They have improved them now . . . but it's taken a lot of running around and time wasting, that's for sure.

"There have been innumerable amounts that some people have been paid or not paid.

"People have organised their lives around the income they get on pay day.

"It's unacceptable."

Another issue was a backlog at the help desk, that had been "completely swamped" since the rollout.

"[We] haven't been getting a timely resolution.

"The practicalities are, for larger schools their administration payroll staff have been incredibly busy with it . . . and for smaller schools they might not have payroll staff and it's an absolute headache."

However, there was no turning back.

"It's the largest payroll in the country. At this point, collectively we all need to work together to make it work.

"There's no option. We can't go back to the old system."

He acknowledged teething problems were to be expected with a system of that size.

In a survey conducted by the New Zealand Principals' Federation, 90 per cent of 1200 principals around the country that responded said they had "on-going problems yet to be resolved from previous pay rounds".

About 200 principals in the survey reported not having all their staff paid correctly in the latest pay round.

Education Ministry chief information officer, Leanne Gibson, has said Novopay was improving, with only 60 staff not paid or underpaid in the latest pay round.

This was down from more than 1000 in a previous cycle and less than under the old system, which usually failed to correctly pay 100-150 staff each pay day.

The Timaru Herald