Principals may invoice ministry for wasted time

Canterbury school principals are being urged to invoice the Government for extra hours spent sorting out the Novopay debacle.

Canterbury-Westland Secondary Principals' Association chairman Neil Wilkinson said he has advised all his colleagues to invoice the Ministry of Education for the additional hours they have had to pay staff to fix the pay problems.

"That's the least they can do. We've got people with support staff in tears over this."

The new pay system has been plagued with problems since it was introduced in August with more than 8100 staff not being paid or who have been underpaid.

Mr Wilkinson said he had paid his staff extra for the additional hours they had worked and he was principal at a small school, Amuri Area School, which has 240 pupils and 45 staff. The cost to bigger schools in the region would have been more significant, he said.

Mr Wilkinson said he had to call the Novopay help line twice last week and spent 58 minutes on hold the first time and 38 minutes the second time.

"It's just ridiculous."

Mr Wilkinson said he did not care whether the ministry or the company behind the Novopay system, Talent2, paid the additional money to schools, but someone had to.

Schools should not have to foot the bill, he said.

The association would also be considering seeking wider compensation over the debacle, Mr Wilkinson said.

"We've had people who are getting more for holiday pay than they got paid for the whole of the year."

Mr Wilkinson said he had a cleaner who worked for two days during the year and got paid $2500 in holiday pay.

Principals in the region were getting increasingly upset and frustrated over the system and some were keen to pursue legal action against the ministry for breach of the basic right to get paid.

Principals had also raised the idea of creating their own pay system, but Mr Wilkinson said that would be too costly and would take some time to set up.

He just hoped the next pay on January 10 went smoothly because it was probably one of the lighter pay periods of the year.

If they did not get that pay cycle right, then the little confidence he had left in Talent2 to get the system right would be completely gone, Mr Wilkinson said.