Brian Holden: Nopay system chalks up even more black marks

By Brian Holden

Novopay is becoming a bigger monster than ever. It's a typical case where the more frantic one digs to escape, the hole only gets bigger.

It seems rather obvious that the wheels used to drive the Ministry of Education payroll agency are simply not big enough.

Having to front up with about 100,000 online pay packets for permanent and casual staff in schools throughout the country every fortnight is a mammoth task. It is inevitable that errors will crop up and, occasionally, for a few unfortunate employees not to be paid at all. But what has been going on for the last few months has been disastrous - no - bizarre with thousands of teachers and other staff being stung with irregularities (cock-ups) week after week, after week.

Yikes, in one Rotorua school alone, an announcement was made last week at morning tea that 20 teachers had errors with their pay, and all the support staff would not be paid.

That would pretty much be the entire school's workforce. I've just poked my inquiring nose into the Novopay website and checked out the latest helpline Call Waiting Times graph. Yes, some bright spark has gone to the trouble to put one together.

I was astounded to see that currently the average waiting time is 11 minutes 20 seconds to a whopping 28 minutes.

Just for curiosity I rang the number and a recorded voice asked me to make my enquiry by email. On the web page, the agency does cover its butt by announcing that "The Service Desk is currently experiencing high call volumes, if your matter is urgent please email through to us with urgent in the subject line. Sorry for the inconvenience".

Not good and I hear from good authority that the email address and phone number given for Waitangi day, were incorrect.

By crikey the Mistress of Education, Hekia Parata, has a lot to answer for and, while not being directly responsible for the Novopay shambles, she is seen as the point of contact with school staff who - quite rightly - want to know what the hell is going on. Good grief I'm glad I don't have to front up to the woman and be insulted by her arrogance and addressing teachers as if they were school kids.

Her permanent broad smile is a concern.

People who wear such smiles are either in constant cover-up brave face mode, or simply away with the fairies. I guess Ms Parata, it's a touch of both.


Further to my left-hand thread experience last week about making wrong assumptions, I know a family who fell squarely into that category.

Their kitchen dishwasher started playing up and, because of its age, decided that either major invasive surgery or replacement would be the only options.

As the family are out of the country quite a bit, they didn't see it as a priority and were perfectly happy to wash the dishes by hand.

So the months went by without giving the matter too much thought. I'm not sure what prompted them to do so, but recently they discovered that it was simply that the dishwasher needed a clean that caused the malfunction in the first place.

So now the family are back in the 21st century, able to benefit from having their dishes washed automatically after doing them by hand on and off for - two years.


- Rotorua Daily Post

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