More Novopay debacle victims

By Gary Hamilton-Irvine

New teachers starting at Rotorua schools and staff returning from maternity leave are among the casualties of the latest Novopay debacle.

Yesterday, the teacher payroll system Novopay released its first pay cycle since schools re-opened for 2013.

Rotorua Girls' High School teacher Megan Figgest said she and a number of her colleagues had received the wrong pay or, in some cases, no pay at all.

She said one of her colleagues, who had returned from maternity leave this year, received $0 on her first pay slip.

Ms Figgest said another teacher, who had two children, had gone the entire summer break without being paid and was only recently back paid by Novopay.

"I feel like we live in fear of not getting paid. That sounds extreme but there are people who rely on getting paid or else they gain interest or can't provide for their children."

Ms Figgest said she was due a pay increase during yesterday's pay cycle but was instead paid on the same pay scale as last year.

She said she felt the Ministry of Education and Novopay had not communicated well with teachers and many did not know what to do if they were not paid.

"Our school has been really good [with that]. They ask us to tell them if we have any pay problems so they can support us."

John Paul College principal Patrick Walsh said a number of new issues had cropped up during yesterday's pay cycle, including four new staff not being paid.

"It is disappointing that we gave Novopay all [our new staff's] details and they still hadn't loaded them on to the pay system."

Mr Walsh said calls to scrap Novopay were increasing and if the Government could not find solutions to the ongoing issues that could be the best option.

"One person has referred to Novopay as a dead cat bouncing."

Mr Walsh said they were paying their staff out of the school's operational fund, which should be used on learning not unpaid wages.

He said Novopay had set up a hotline for staff who did not receive their pay, but after 20 minutes on the line one of their teachers simply had to give up.

"Waitangi Day is a public holiday. Teachers should be out enjoying the holiday not sitting at their desks trying to solve pay problems."

He said some issues which arose at Christmas last year were still to be fixed and the minister in charge of Novopay, Steven Joyce, had signalled pay issues could go on for up to two more years.

Ministry of Education group manager Rebecca Elvy said they had been operating their call centre yesterday for staff who had not received any pay or were underpaid significantly.

"As at 2pm [yesterday], the ministry call centre had received 266 calls. Nearly all have been from individual school staff, with some also from principals and payroll administrators on behalf of their staff. With a few exceptions, the calls have been about staff not being paid or being significantly underpaid.

"The ministry is processing 60 direct payments, which the major banks have agreed to pay into bank accounts today, notwithstanding it is a public holiday, and we're really grateful for their assistance. Direct payments can also be made, as usual, tomorrow."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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