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Debt collectors hunt Novopay overpayments

Wednesday 13 Mar 2013 6:31 a.m.

By 3 News online staff

There is outrage this morning over the revelation debt collectors are being sent to the homes of teachers to recoup money overpaid by the Novopay system.

Many other school staff have been underpaid or not paid at all during more than six months of problems by the payroll system, run by Australian company Talent2.

Labour's Education spokesman Chris Hipkins is furious.

"These overpayments are the Government's mistake. The fact that they're now sending debt collectors around to heavy people for money that they never took, they were given it, it was put into their bank accounts, they didn't ask for it – I think it's absolutely disgusting," says Mr Hipkins.

"I met a teacher in my own electorate last week who had been overpaid by Novopay one week, underpaid in the next and was being heavied to repay the money from the overpayment despite the fact that the underpayment more than compensated for that."

Some teachers are being chased for as little as $22 in overpayments, the New Zealand Herald reported this morning.

"Yesterday morning, a courier arrived and woke up my household," west Auckland primary teacher Kelly Clarke told the paper. "The delivery was a letter from Novopay informing me that debt collectors would be employed to take control of my $22.78 debt."

Ms Clarke says the debt collectors were put on hold after she complained to the Government.

NZEI president Ian Leckie said using debt collectors as an "absolute overreach".

"I'm absolutely astounded that this is a process that is being used while we have so many teachers who are being either underpaid or not paid at all," he told Firstline this morning.

"I think absolutely the first priority is to get teachers paid correctly, and we would hope that the teaching profession were honest people and I can vouch that they certainly are. People who are overpaid generally will pay it back – that shouldn't be an issue – and in fact to have debt collectors out there in this process is just an absolute overreach."

A recent survey by the Post Primary Teachers' Association claims more teachers are being wrongly paid than the Government's reports suggest.

3 News / RadioLIVE

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