Sad Christmas looms for unpaid teachers
All Waikato schools want for Christmas is for their staff to be paid what they're owed.
It's not a lot to ask but with thousands of unresolved errors nationwide in the latest education pay cycle, there are grave concerns that their wish will not be granted in time.
Principals have no confidence that problems with the "nightmare" Novopay system will be fixed before the end of the year and say dozens of Waikato staff could be left out of pocket over the summer holidays.
At least one teacher was not paid at all in the latest cycle - despite Novopay recording that she was paid.
Another has not been compensated for an under-payment in September and many more are missing thousands of dollars worth of holiday pay.
There are too many problems to list.
It makes for an unwelcome end to a tumultuous year for education in New Zealand, creating more stress for school staff and their families leading up to Christmas.
Waikato Principals' Association chairman John Coulam said at least six support staff at his school - Marian Catholic School - have yet to receive their holiday pay and he doubted that they would before the end of the year.
"It's affecting a lot of schools and a lot of people.
"People don't have, necessarily, a lot of money stuck away in the bank, so if they're not getting paid their holiday pay and their statutory holidays, then when will they get it paid?
"They might be relying on that money to provide a Christmas for their children."
Matamata College executive officer Jennifer McCormack said that when she compared staff pay slips with the Novopay report, she realised the pay rates did not match up.
"I fear that no-one has been paid correctly but it is going to take time to work through each individual transaction on the reports," she said.
The latest Novopay update to schools said 92,000 staff were paid in the latest cycle, processed on Tuesday night, but about 5000 others missed out on holiday pay.
"We regret the delay that has affected the payment for these staff - and you can assure them that their holiday pay will be in their accounts by Thursday morning," the email said.
Mr Coulam, and others, said they had little confidence that all problems would be resolved by the final pay day of the year on December 21.
Hauraki-Waikato Labour MP and education spokeswoman Nanaia Mahuta predicted problems would arise around holiday pay leading up to Christmas about a month ago.
"Where the rubber hits the road, all our teachers deserve to be paid in full, on time and to have a good Christmas.
"They've got bills to pay and children to look after just like anyone else.
"I think a lot of our teachers in the Waikato will have a very gloomy Christmas."
The Waikato Times has obtained an email from Education Minister Hekia Parata to Waikato Principals' Association communications officer Pat Poland, dated August 29.
In it, Mr Poland had asked whether the Government was "satisfied that Novopay was ready to be implemented".
Ms Parata said: "The decision to implement on 20 August was made after extensive testing and quality assurance.
"I am confident that Novopay was ready to implement, and confident that fine tuning will resolve many of the issues that schools are raising."
Ms Mahuta said the Government did not have an implementation plan and did not thoroughly trial the system before it went live.
The Ministry of Education and Ms Parata did not respond to questions.
WAIKATO SCHOOLS' NOVOPAY ISSUES:
Relief teacher not paid at all in latest cycle.
Staff member underpaid in September still waiting to be compensated.
Some staff have not been paid any holiday pay, even though it is due. Bereavement leave still owing.
Executive officer locked out of the Novopay system.
Deductions from the school bulk grant have not been repaid.
Staff overpaid for statutory days.
Staff paid at the wrong rate.
Previous overpayments to staff have not been resolved and the debt is in limbo.
Novopay support people are just message takers and cannot give advice or resolve problems.
Allowances for support staff have not been calculated correctly.
Staff usage and expenditure report difficult to understand.