LAST week a teacher aide at Kai Iwi School was overpaid by $7000.
It made a change from being underpaid.
"I've always been getting underpaid so when I was told I had been overpaid by $7000 I said it was news to me because there was nothing in my bank account" the teacher aide told the Chronicle.
"But overnight $7000 went into my account."
The teacher aide said that she has never received payslips, so never really knows "what's going on when it comes to being paid".
"I am too frightened to spend anything at the moment until they sort it out this week ... well I hope it's this week."
It's the kind of mistake that has left principals and office administrators stressed, particularly trying to finalise end-of-year payments.
Tawhero School office administrator Sandra Carrick has even sent her staff usage and expenditure report (SUE) to the Ministry of Education in Wellington, explaining she's "had it with filling out any more forms for Novopay overpayments".
"I am supposed to be on holiday as from Friday; well, I now call it 'stress leave' so the ministry can deal with all the errors and overpayments. I hope more administration staff and principals take the same stand, as it has gone beyond ridiculous now.
"Why should we have to fill out forms when it is not our mistake?"
Mrs Carrick said it's as though she now has two jobs. "One I really love and enjoy and get paid for, and then there is the one that I despise - yes I work for Novopay for nothing."
Last Friday she worked through the draft SUE report [used by Novopay] and was extremely stressed by the end of the day. Then she got an email from Novopay to say there were errors in it, but was told by Monday everything would be fine. However, no final report from Novopay was received until Tuesday, and it wasfull of their mistakes.
An example of problems Mrs Carrick is dealing with is a relieving teacher who was overpaid by Novopay when it first took over, having been inputted by Novopay as a fulltime teacher.
"I have been trying to get this resolved for months - and now she has been overpaid [for a second time], plus paid four days' relieving. She has already been paid in the previous pay period and on her payslip she tells me she has also been paid four relieving days from another school, Redbeach School."
A relief cleaner has been overpaid by about $400 but when the draft SUE report was sent on Friday, she was going to get about $3000.
"She has only done a few days' relief work for us," Mrs Carrick said.
"This is taxpayers' money they are wasting and eventually someone is going to have to be made accountable."
Wanganui Intermediate School principal Charles Oliver says once again his school staff have not come through unscathed.
"We have a teacher aide overpaid by around $1000 and two part-time, casual cleaners who shouldn't have been paid at all, but were plucked from somewhere in our records. And another teacher aide who resigned some time ago and has also been plucked out of our records and put back on our payroll."
Mr Oliver said the school received a draft payroll report last week and thought it was in the clear. "None of these overpayments were listed in the draft report. On Monday we received the final payroll report which contained these new entries we knew nothing about. It was too late to stop the payments, and so this money has been taken out of our bank account and paid out to these employees. We have been trying to contact Novopay about this but - surprise, surprise - they aren't answering the phone. In desperation we phoned the Ministry of Education in Wellington and were told to send in an email.
"We've done this before and nothing was fixed," Mr Oliver said.
"We have no confidence in them and are unable to get mistakes unravelled when they do happen. Both my finance administrator and I have spent many hours this week on Novopay problems and we haven't achieved a single success."
Mr Oliver said they were still waiting for a mistake made in October to be corrected.
"I have a relief teacher still waiting for five days' pay from the first week of this term, and I have a teacher on leave who has been overpaid by thousands of dollars. We asked the Ministry of Education to intervene and correct this mistake and I have an email assuring me it has been fixed. My relief teacher still hasn't been paid and my teacher on leave is still being paid when she shouldn't be."
Ohakune Primary School payroll administrator Donna Summerhays said she had spent hours on Novopay doing her best to get staff information through.
The online system "is a joke, as half of the work entitles a signature so cannot be done online", she said.
She said the school had staff paid who did not work there while five staff had not been paid for five weeks.
"Our school has had to pay $12,368.42 out to staff who have not been paid. We are unable to retrieve this quickly until the Novopay system catches up with all the backload and pays out the staff accordingly and correctly."
The frustrations are echoed by Churton School principal Andrew Spence.
"Our school has completed work as required and still they make errors. I have had ex-employees' holiday pay paid and they have not worked here for over a year. When office staff have called to get details, we can wait over half an hour, to the point where I instruct them to hang up.
"I feel frustrated as staff are not getting paid or getting payments that they are not entitled to. These issues take time and office staff spend too much time resolving them" Mr Spence said.
Keith St School principal Clyde Piercy believed staff there had got away reasonably lightly.
"All our staff have been paid and the errors we identified concerning holiday pay prior to this pay period had been largely corrected.
"We have three staff members who will hopefully receive holiday pay either overnight or the next pay period. We still have a number of issues outstanding concerning overpayments, incorrect deductions, failure to regrade and queries around banked staffing entries.
"Our administrative staff continue to put in many extra hours to ensure our staff are paid."
Carlton School principal Paul Petersen said if everyone thought the end-of-year payments were riddled with errors then the start of next year was going to be a nightmare.
"With new staff transferring from school to school at the start of 2013 and some management with new responsibilities ... I really don't think this system will handle it at all."
Mr Petersen said Carlton staff were still having problems; the errors were phenomenal and they were just not going away.
"Not to mention the paperwork involved, which is unbelievable."