Novopay problems inflate holiday pay for school staff

The problems caused by the Ministry of Education's Novopay payroll system are mounting, with reports that school staff have been receiving huge holiday pay packets they aren't entitled to.

Today is the final payday before Christmas, and staff at some schools received up to 100 times more holiday pay than they should have, 3 News reported.

Tauranga's Oropi School principal Andrew King said some of those receiving thousands of dollars didn't even work at the school anymore.

In one case a payment was for $530, another was for $2800 and a third was for $8600 - a total of $12,000 from the school's now-empty coffers

"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," Mr King said.

3 News further reported that there had been tens of thousands of dollars in overpayments at Waikanae Primary on the Kapiti Coast and at Wellington's Rongotai College.

"Maybe the minister [Hekia Parata] 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," said Rongotai College principal Kevin Carter.

Schools have been left reeling at the beginning of their holidays after a last-minute scramble to try to stop incorrect payments from leaving school bank accounts.

Staff reportedly faced waits of more than 30 minutes when they tried to get through to the Ministry of Education's helpdesk.

Ilminister Intermediate School principal Peter Ferris tried to sort out $10,000 that had been wrongly allocated to be paid to former staff. He was unable to, and payments of $5800 went to one staff member who hadn't worked at the school for six months, and another $3600 went to a former part-time cleaner.

He tried to contact the ministry's helpline on Thursday but the payment still went through.

The head of the company behind the system apologised to school staff left unpaid before Christmas but says he's "bamboozled" anyone would be in that position.

Chief executive of Australian company Talent2 John Rawlinson said there was no reason for staff to go unpaid because they could get cash advances from their schools, who would be reimbursed.

"Either staff don't know about the process, the school doesn't follow the process or they just don't want to get paid."

Mr Rawlinson said there was a helpline and it would be staffed during the holidays to deal with problematic pay.

He echoed the comments made by former Secretary for Education Lesley Longstone, saying that if he could implement Novopay differently he would - but he wouldn't think twice about accepting the contract.

"We're really sorry that it hasn't gone better. It's been new and there have been some errors, and there have been parts of the process that haven't worked as well as they should have and for that we apologise."

The ministry's chief information officer Leanne Gibson said 300 school staff had not received their holiday pay, but 73,000 school staff received their final pay for the year.

Thousands of staff have been incorrectly paid since the $30 million Novopay system for 92,000 school staff was introduced in August.


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