Teachers disillusioned by ongoing payroll gaffes

By Nathan Crombie of the Wairarapa Times-Age -
Gladstone School principal Margaret Hyslop. Photo / Wairarapa Times-Age
Gladstone School principal Margaret Hyslop. Photo / Wairarapa Times-Age

Flaws in the Novopay payroll system have been targeted for repair before the end of the year, says Novopay business owner Rebecca Elvy.

The system, which launched in August, has been dogged by a succession of errors that have frustrated and angered school staff nationwide.

Veteran Masterton teacher Lesley Forrest, who works as a part-time and fixed term primary teacher at a dozen schools in Wairarapa and Palmerston North, told the Wairarapa Times-Age last week she is still about $1500 out of pocket because of ongoing payroll blunders.

Gladstone School principal Margaret Hyslop told the Times-Age that after discovering mistakes during the first pay round after the system was launched, she had called payroll service provider Talent2 and was the 1117th caller in the complaints queue.

Mrs Hyslop did not expect the system to be fully repaired by the end of the year.

Ms Elvy said the Ministry of Education is "very focused on fixing the remaining bugs in Novopay, continuing to improve the service levels, and working with schools to ensure a successful end-of-year pay process".

She said fortnightly software releases will be made until the end of the year to resolve ongoing technical issues. Initial priority was given to flaws that included call waiting times, the accuracy of reports schools use to ensure correct payrolls and confusing pay information for relief teachers who work for more than one school.

Call waiting times at the service centre have been dramatically reduced, she said, and while there are still fluctuations and times of peak demand, the average waiting time over the past seven days has been one minute, 23 seconds.

"Successful fixes have been made to schools' key payroll report, the Staffing Usage and Expenditure report. All but a very small number of schools now get correct SUE reports each pay cycle."

Ms Elvy said that during the first two Novopay pay cycles, many schools sent paper forms to the service desk rather than use the online service.

"This was an understandable response to some of the difficulties schools were experiencing. However, the much larger-than-expected number of paper forms were not able to be processed on time."

She said the consequent backlog of forms started at over 8000 and had been reduced to less than 2000.

"We will have it cleared by the next pay day, 14 November. This will make a big difference to Novopay's daily operations."

Ms Elvy said problems which have been identified include incorrect leave entitlements and third-party payments such as student loan repayments, and the need for ongoing "improvements to how the system works for relief teachers, particularly those working at more than one school".

"These issues, along with clearing the backlog from the first two pay periods, are our current priorities. This is all part of working with schools to get ready for a successful end of year pay process," she said.

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