Scrapping Novopay may fix problems: principal

By Gary Hamilton-Irvine

A Rotorua principal says scrapping Novopay altogether may be the only way to fix teacher pay problems.

The Ministry of Education announced last week that it would consider moving forward a planned review into the Novopay system.

Secondary Principals' Association of New Zealand president and John Paul College principal Patrick Walsh said scrapping the system, and returning to the old payroll system, might not be politically palatable but it could be the Government's only option.

"It would be a huge waste of resource and taxpayer money," Mr Walsh said. "But the question has to be asked, are we flogging a dead horse?"

He said Novopay had shown no great improvement since it was introduced in August, with new problems reported each pay period.

"The New Zealand public hold a strong expectation that every New Zealand worker has the entitlement to be paid on time for their work.

"We want to start the school year on a positive note and we don't need the distraction and problems of Novopay."

Mr Walsh said if Novopay could be fixed then more needed to be done, starting with more involvement from the Minister of Education Hekia Parata and Prime Minister John Key.

"If [Novopay] is capable of being fixed we need both Hekia Parata and the Prime Minister to become directly involved, and get it fixed."

Mr Walsh said that when school goes back he would be asking secondary principals whether they would support a vote of no confidence in Novopay, which he would present to Ms Parata.

He said this would be the first time the principals' association had taken a vote of no confidence on any matter. "We do not take the vote lightly."

However, he said 8000 errors by Novopay during six months was not acceptable.

Mr Walsh said at first it was only fair to expect some issues with a major payroll overhaul but this had gone on too long.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education, who contracted Australian company Talent2 to set up Novopay, asked schools to be patient. The ministry said it was considering bringing forward a planned review of the payroll system.

Ministry group manager of education workforce Rebecca Elvy said she expected an increased number of errors during the next two pay periods because of the start of the school year.

"Where a staff member is not paid or significantly underpaid schools have the option of either paying the staff member directly or contacting the ministry to arrange a direct payment.

"The ministry will also make an advance to any school experiencing cash-flow problems because they have had an overpayment to a staff member made out of their operational funding."

Labour MP Chris Hipkins told Newstalk ZB on Thursday the ministry needed to hurry up with a decision on whether it was viable to continue with Novopay.

"I think this debacle's gone on long enough. I think people want to have some answers. I think it's time the ministry did a pretty thorough review and worked out whether Novopay's ever going to be able to deliver what it's supposed to."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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