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The Hidden Costs to Schools of the Novopay Debacle


The Hidden Costs to Schools of the Novopay Debacle

The Wellington Wairarapa School Trustees Association says schools are feeling the impact of the hidden costs of the introduction and subsequent debacle that is Novopay. Not only do Boards have to deal with stressed and harassed staff and prop up their pay deficiencies but some schools are paying for up to 40% of their clerical staff hours to be devoted to Novopay issues, says Chris Toa, Chairperson, Wellington Wairarapa School Trustees Association.

“Our member Boards are deeply concerned that staff are being put in this stressful situation where pay glitches are the norm, they can’t fathom the fluctuations in their pay, Novopay seem unable to rectify ongoing issues, hours are spent ‘on hold’ and , most recently, their personal information has been disclosed to other schools,” he says.

Last week’s survey of school Principals reported that 90% of the 1,000 respondents had unresolved pay issues from earlier pay rounds.

A small sample of our local Wellington and Wairarapa schools (five) report:

Novopay still unable to rectify overpayment of staff after three pay cycles

Two staff paid from the schools payroll who have never been on their staff

- A reliever paid for the same day worked at an Upper Hutt School and an Auckland School

Staff paid for 39 days not 39 hours - A primary school with a staff of 52 having to spend the equivalent of two days a week sorting out pay issues
A small country school with a staff of just seven spending an average of 10 hours a week on payroll issues, running a tag team system ‘on hold’ to Novopay Helpdesk
- A Teacher Aid unpaid for six weeks, and though now being paid, there are still discrepancies

Over one month to answer a query that involved a staff member's underpayment

Tutor Teacher allowance stopped without any authorization from the school and payments reversed back to August

A teacher on long term leave who has been paid out for the entire year suddenly getting a pay in the most recent pay period

Schools understood, and were forced to accept, that as the Ministry passed the responsibility to them to deal with the clerical side of payroll this would carry extra costs in time for the existing management and clerical staff in schools, Chris Toa says.

Boards have already had to absorb the cost of the time spent in training and setting up the system within schools and now as the multitude of glitches occur the hours of administration are multiplying. On top of this, schools are expected to balance the books in regard to wages but when Novopay continually have to rectify issues from previous pay periods, but provide insufficient information for schools to track these amendments, that job, in many cases, is near impossible.

Schools are having to dip into their own funds to rectify pay bungles as an interim measure. At the end of the day, money and time that should be spent on education has to be spent on this chaotic and faulty pay system. Administration and financial responsibilities that were once those of the Ministry have now been put onto schools with no compensation whatsoever.

“It is inevitable that in the long run, the money to fund this is coming out of our schools pockets, not the Ministry’s, and is not being used for the purpose it was intended – to provide quality education for our children”, states Mr Toa.

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