Novopay: Special focus on teachers affected by Christchurch changes

By Kate Shuttleworth

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Plans are underway to ensure final payments for up to 50 teachers who could lose their jobs in the Christchurch education restructure are properly processed by Novopay.

Labour's acting education spokeswoman Megan Woods asked Education Minister Hekia Parata and Secretary for Education Peter Hughes at the education and science committee what they were doing to prepare to process the final pay.

Mr Hughes said normal pay periods already included final payments for teachers.

"You are right, a number of them will converge around the Christchurch changes, so we are working right now on a proposition that looks at putting in place special staff around schools in Christchurch.

He said there would be a special service set up for teachers who may lose their jobs as part of the Christchurch school shakeup.

Education Minister Hekia Parata confirmed every school who were proposed for closure or merger would get ministry extra staff.

Schools closing will get a residual agent and schools merging, an establishment board would be set up.

"The Ministry of Education has established a dedicated team within the Christchurch office to these schools and we are very alert to the fact that we need to manage this in a proactive manner.

"If all teachers were to lose their jobs in the Christchurch package I have been dealing with that's a total of 50 teachers," said Ms Parata.

Dr Woods said there was a strong anxiety among Christchurch teachers that this pay was going to be a debacle because it would be complex.

She said Ms Parata had downplayed it by saying there were only 50 people.

"There's not nearly enough detail".

Labour MP Carol Beaumont asked the minister if she took any responsibility for the decision to go live on Novopay.

Ms Parata said she did no accept responsibility for a poor decision to go live on Novopay.

"No, I don't accept that at that stage because all the advice at that stage was to go live and it's very clear from the Martin Jack report that ministers were given overly optimistic, sometimes inaccurate and sometimes misrepresented advice.

Murray Jack and Sir Maarten Wevers were commissioned to carry out a Ministerial Inquiry and among one of it's findings was that ministry staff provided inadequate advice to ministers.

"Clarifications were in fact sought on several occasions from officials and all of the advice given to me and other ministers was that we should proceed and on the basis of that advice, which I feel entitled to rely on, the decision was made at that time.

"Clearly since then we know that there were to many mistakes in that and we have put the investment in to address those," Ms Parata said.

This is despite briefings and letters to key minister that told them there were a number of faults with Novopay, before recommending it be signed off.

- APNZ

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