Ministry 'confident' despite new woes
Fri, 21 Dec 2012 6:01p.m.
By Kim Chisnall
First Novopay wasn't paying teachers enough – but now, like some crazed Santa, it's delivering sackloads of money that isn't theirs at all.
Today was their final pay before Christmas, and some schools and staff say they've got up to 100 times more holiday pay than they were entitled to.
And it's money that really has been deducted from school bank accounts – leaving principals furious, and thousands of dollars out of pocket.
Oropi School is a small school with a small staff, and is one of those with a very big overpayment problem. Support staff who no longer work at Oropi have received thousands of dollars in holiday pay they're not entitled to.
Just $530 in one case, but $2,800 in another and a whopping $8,600 in a third.
Oropi principal Andrew King says the payments are completely out of proportion.
“The $8000 payment is a support staff member who was employed for three hours in term one, and the other support staff member has done seven hours all year.”
All up, $12,000 in overpayments has come out of the school bank accounts, leaving it almost cleaned out.
At another school, there are another lot of overpayments. Waikanae Primary's 14 support staff all received holiday pays of over $2,500 – around 100 times more than was owed to them.
Principal Bevan Campbell says it’s bewildering.
“When you look at the staffing and usage report you can't actually work out how they've come to that figure – it doesn't look sensible in any way, shape or form, it's just a very big number.”
But where the schools see failure, the ministry sees increasing success – saying things are improving and it will work with schools to get the money back.
“There is a standard process to contact the person, inform them of what the overpayment is and negotiate repayment, and it can take up to 49 days,” says Ministry of Education chief information officer Leanne Gibson.
But at Rongatai College, principal Kevin Carter says that's little comfort when he'll be spending his summer break sorting out overpayments of $30,000.
“Maybe the minister needs to take a harsh look at herself while she's on her six weeks' holiday that we won't be having because we're having to sort out the Novopay bungle,” he says.
Mr Carter describes Novopay as "an absolute debacle", but the ministry is standing by the plagued payroll system.
“I am confident in the Novapay system – we are nine pay cycles in now, we've paid 700,000 people, we've cleared the backlog of transactions that were there and we have a work plan in place to address any new issues,” says Ms Gibson.
The ministry's confidence in Novopay is not shared by the Principal's Federation. Its president has written to the Auditor-General and the Prime Minister, asking for an independent inquiry into Novopay. The federation says it now feels Novopay can't be fixed and it's time for ‘Plan B’ – if the ministry has one.
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17/01/2013 5:43:35 p.m.
Debacle - what an understatement! I'm not looking forward to next Govt budget when they find that MOE has significant blown it's budget by salaries paid in error let alone the poor schools that are losing $ every fortnight when Novopay takes out money from bank accounts to overpay people.
27/12/2012 10:45:45 p.m.
I came from a business background (Carter Holt Harvey), and have worked as an Executive Officer in a Secondary School for eight years. I don't think anyone has a handle on how bad this is. The Government is owed millions, but they will only know about it if we (and the teachers) let them know. It is so bad that I have decided to hand in my notice. Good luck - love my job, but can't handle the stress anymore:(
27/12/2012 6:45:18 a.m.
I don't think the kiwi public has any confidence in the Ministry's confidence levels when it comes to the Nevapay fiasco. The ongoing debacle with the Novapay system continues and the govt's response has been typical of their inept handling of most of the country's problems. Here's what would happen if this mess was a commercial contract and not a gravy-train govt contract. Talent-less2 would be instructed to fix all the mistakes their error ridden system has produced while tenders were taken from their competitors for a new contract. All the 'fixing' would be at their expense and then they would be asked to leave. There wouldn't be a continual flow of support from the client who was being lumped with the mess of the last four months since Novopay got the green light. They would be looking for a competent replacement to get the job done without a plague of payroll blunders every month since they took over.....come on National, NZ wants you to fix this mess, not issue press statements. Ask yourself how long would this have gone on if it was the MPs salaries getting messed up and why aren't the teachers on the same payroll system that MPs use? Hmmmm?
24/12/2012 6:55:12 p.m.
Mr Crown wrote:
to @wiseacre's question "When will it end?" I have some bad news, the ministry has just rolled out the Novopay Identity, yet to come is the Novopay Supremacy, Novopay Ultimatum and finally the Novopay Legacy which by all accounts will be out just before the next elections
24/12/2012 6:37:20 p.m.
Ms Gibson rationale about the 700,000 successfully paid people (although she didn't say correctly paid) is as logical as the police saying, 20 million man hours of driving occurred during the last 9 days and only 10 people died. A phrase from the movie Nottinghill "James Bond didn't have to put up with this sh*t" would seem to be an apt teacher response from all those that have had their Christmas break stuffed up. Get a life Ms Gibson!!
23/12/2012 11:11:38 a.m.
Quite right. It is one mess after another... When will it end.
23/12/2012 11:04:36 a.m.
Parata should lose her job over this.the company that runs nova pay system is a new company. Why the government chose this firm with no history in this area is beyond me! it sounds like someone has taken a cash under the table payment!!
22/12/2012 9:46:35 a.m.
Like everything else National touches, this debacle is only getting worse. The Government's complacency in dealing with this matter is indicative of the disdain they hold for public education and the teaching profession.
21/12/2012 11:51:02 p.m.
Leeanne Gibson said they'd work with schools to get the money back... they haven't worked with schools so far.They took money out of another organisations bank account without the authority to do so... legal?
She said that they've paid 700,000 people. She didn't say accurately nor did she say they were in a large number of cases, the wrong people.
She said the backlog is cleared. Myself and many other principals will tell you this is completely untrue.
Retrieval of over-payments is up to 49 days according to Leeanne Gibson. It's 9 pay cycles in as she pointed out and we are still waiting for earlier over-payments to be addressed.
Schools financial year ends on 31st December. Not only are we still at work working on NOVOPAY but also trying to provide clear information about the mess they've made of our accounts for the Auditor.
For the record people were also overpaid holiday pay last pay period so NOVOPAY knew about this problem then. They told me on the phone on the 14th that it is a fault in the End of Year Form. They had time to fix or at the very least alert us.
The over payment is a great story but I'm pretty sure that other principals will agree that the biggest stress is trying to ensure that staff who haven't been paid get some money before Christmas and we can't even guarantee that. I know of some who have paid staff from their own pocket because thinking someone is without money at Christmas is worse than going without yourself. Leeanne Gibsons tone in this interview is disappointing- did anyone ask her if she's been paid? I'd like her to have to look those people who haven't been paid and their children in the eyes right before Christmas and tell them it's ok that they have no money and that it will eventually be sorted out.The number of potential personal grievance cases School Boards could be facing, doesn't even bear thinking about.
21/12/2012 10:41:01 p.m.
HAHA you dead right Mrs J. How can a simple accounting system be so bad and expensive. If I was the goverment Id want my money back.
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