Relief teacher angry wage problems not solved

By John Lewis of the Otago Daily Times -
Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A Dunedin relief teacher says he and the administration staff at the schools he works at have spent almost as much time trying to sort his pay with Novopay than he has spent doing his job.

Andrew Pearce is fuming at problems with the Ministry of Education's new Novopay payroll system because he is still awaiting payment for four days of teaching work he did in August and September.

Initially, he had not been paid for many more days of work in the two-month period, but after considerable effort by school administrators, he had managed to be paid for most of them.

"The administration people have been trying very hard to sort it out with Novopay, with little joy.

"It seems that the system can not handle me being a casual reliever who also works one contract day a week.

"I know for a fact that admin staff are spending ridiculous amounts of time on ringing Novopay with huge phone waiting times.

"I feel that as a reliever, I am at the bottom of the list of priorities and life is now much more frustrating - my pay slips no longer tell me what days I am getting paid for, just the number in that pay period.

"This has meant that I have had to rely on school admin staff to phone and wait on-hold for long periods, to find out which days I have been paid for and which I have not."

Mr Pearce said he had emailed the Ministry of Education twice about the issue, because he was not allowed to contact Novopay himself, and he had had no response.

"I'm irritated about the whole thing - it's all very messy really."

Otago Primary Principals Association president Brent Caldwell said Mr Pearce was just one of many with the same problem.

"You could multiply this problem by every school across New Zealand.

"As time has passed, the problems are becoming more and more complicated.

"We're into our fifth pay cycle now, where people haven't been paid. The problem multiplies with each pay period."

For University of Otago Information Science senior lecturer Dr Grant Dick, the problems affecting the Ministry of Education's new payroll system are a bit like deja vu.

He said the same issues were experienced when the ministry brought in a new computer system in the 1990s.

"Back then, the new centralised system was seen as a way of saving millions of dollars, but only ended up with many thousands of errors, and hundreds of teaching staff not being paid for the first quarter of a year in 1993."

He said the issues were so serious there were reports of staff breaking down at work, and requiring counselling for incorrect payments or loss of income.

"When I first heard about the current situation, I was amazed.

"Though 1993 is some time ago now, surely someone must have remembered that there were major problems experienced then, and taken adequate precaution accordingly.

"Apparently not."

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