Fears for teachers' holiday pay

16:00, Nov 23 2012

Payroll problems plaguing South Canterbury schools remain unresolved and there are fears some staff will not be paid over Christmas.

The $29.4 million Novopay system introduced last month has come under fire after thousands of errors following its implementation.

Sacred Heart Primary School principal David Armstrong told The Timaru Herald last month a teacher not on the school's payroll had been paid. Yesterday, he said despite having reported the issue it had still not been resolved.

"[It is] continuing to provide an immense amount of frustration for schools.

"I was hopeful things would have been resolved but it doesn't seem to be the case.

"We are paying . . . a teacher somewhere in the North Island and the system won't let them stop paying that teacher.


"We've obviously attempted to stop paying them . . . it's a wee bit farcical, really."

Mr Armstrong was also frustrated at the length of time it took to get assistance.

"To get timely help and support for these issues is very difficult," he said.

"It's incredibly frustrating and time-consuming . . . for whoever your payroll officer is. The amount of time it takes up for them is unreasonable."

He echoed concerns of schools around the country that fixed-term staff, such as administration staff and cleaners, who do not work over the summer, would not be paid their holiday pay.

"We have no reason to think that there won't be problems. Unfortunately for the people involved that's going to happen at Christmas time.

"There's no way to predict what Novopay will do, except from our perspective that there will be plenty of errors."

Mr Armstrong said principals were "up in arms" that the Australian company behind Novopay, Talent2, had blamed school administration staff.

Talent2 chief executive John Rawlinson said this week a lack of skills and training as well as Novopay's less-than-optimal user-interface had led many school administrators to choose to phone or fax the information needed to pay teachers to Novopay's data centres, rather than submit it automatically online.

"That's appalling really," Mr Armstrong said.

Talent2 said this week outstanding errors would reduce with each payroll cycle.

The Timaru Herald