The minister in charge of sorting out the Novopay
debacle, Steven Joyce, says debt collection has now ceased
following revelations teachers were being chased for
overpayments as low as $22.
Mr Joyce said the Ministry of Education's Acting Secretary
Peter Hughes had stopped all debt collection and was
reviewing the policy.
Debt collection agency Baycorp has about 200
education-related debts, with seven of those relating to
Novopay since they took over the contract last August, a
spokesman for Mr Joyce's office said.
The other debts related to the previous pay provider for the
Ministry of Education.
Teachers have slammed the the debt collection as heavy handed
and hypocritical, with some still waiting for the wages they
failed to receive as a result of the error-ridden Novopay
A west Auckland primary teacher described how she was being
chased for $22.78.
"I was accidentally paid $1840 by Novopay in October,
although I hadn't worked for 10 months at that time," said
teacher Kelly Clarke, who is on maternity leave.
"I immediately realised I had been overpaid and tried to find
out how I could pay it back. No one knew how to go about
"At the end of January, Novopay requested that I pay the
money back. I repaid $1840 - the net pay that I had received.
Since then I have received several requests that I repay a
$22.78 [union] contribution which Novopay automatically made
on my behalf when they paid me. I have made no effort to do
so, since I never received that money ...
"Yesterday morning, a courier arrived and woke up my
household. The delivery was a letter from Novopay informing
me that debt collectors would be employed to take control of
my $22.78 debt."
After she complained, Novopay representatives said they would
put debt collection on hold while they looked into the case.
The Novopay payroll system, run by Australian company Talent2
and introduced six months ago, has been plagued by problems,
and teachers and support staff have been underpaid, overpaid
or not paid at all.
Ian Leckie, immediate past president of the NZ Educational
Institute, said the collection action was "extremely
He understood debt collectors were approaching teachers while
they were working, and the visits were the first they knew
about any overpayment.
He said the ministry owed money to his school, which had paid
$45,000 in advance to teachers who had been victims of the
"But our school certainly isn't sending debt collectors
around to the ministry for what we had to pay out."