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Teacher pay blunder may be law breach

Thursday 15 Nov 2012 3:16 p.m.

Associate Education Minister Craig Foss (file)

Associate Education Minister Craig Foss (file)

The Government is refusing to comment on suggestions it is breaking the law through ongoing blunders with a new teacher payroll system, which has seen some school staff go unpaid for months.

The error-ridden $26 million Novopay payroll system was launched by the Education Ministry two months ago with a bungled first pay round that caused thousands of errors in teachers' pay.

Associate Education Minister Craig Foss last week told Parliament the issues would be fixed by Friday - a deadline that was later extended to Wednesday, but has still not been rectified.

The Government now faces questions over whether its actions are a breach of the Wages Protection Act, and therefore illegal.

The Department of Labour says under the act, employees should be paid "on the day and at the intervals that have been agreed with the employer".

On Thursday, Mr Foss said he did not "concede" that the ongoing issues were a breach of the law.

"I'm not commenting if it's in breach or not - I need to be briefed on that - but right now all energy is to get everybody paid correctly, accurately and on time."

He added that if staff had not been paid, they should contact their school's payroll officer, who was able to give them their pay directly from the school's operations grant.

Mr Foss defended the company behind the payroll system, Talent2, saying they had made "good progress" on fixing the problems, but it was not good enough.

He said the process for enforcing financial penalties on Talent2 for the errors - which mean it has failed to meet key performance indicators in its contract with the Ministry of Education - is "well underway".

The company's reputation was "suffering a bit" because of the debacle.

It is understood the Education Ministry has given the company authority to speak to the media about the matter, but a Talent2 spokesperson told NZ Newswire the company would only respond to enquiries that were submitted in writing.

Mr Foss said he would be interested to hear what the company had to say.

NZN

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