Payroll problem plagues schools

Principals around the country are criticising the Ministry of Education after major payroll errors, which have created a bureaucratic nightmare for many schools.

Datacom is contracted by the Ministry of Education to provide payroll services to more than 80,000 New Zealand teachers. The latest payroll round - the first of the school term - was filled with errors, New Zealand Principals Federation president and Balclutha Primary School principal Paddy Ford said.

‘‘A number of schools have not received any pay, and many support staff have been paid the incorrect amounts.

Staff who are on leave have incorrectly received full pay, changes that were sent to Datacom in November have not been actioned, and staff are being forced to fill forms out twice with exactly the same information.''

Balaclava School principal Sally Direen said most Otago schools had been affected by the bungle, including Balaclava.

Kaikorai Valley College principal Philip Craigie said: ‘‘Some people haven't been paid correctly. That's typical at this time of year, but there seem to be a few more teachers with pay problems than previous years.''

Mr Craigie said some teachers had to be paid from school funds so they could afford groceries, but believed the pay problems were traditionally rectified within a couple of weeks.

Mr Ford said: ‘‘Schools deserve better. It's a nightmare. We are dealing with unnecessary bureaucracy and huge numbers of errors.

Payroll systems have changed for the worse and we need to have immediate action from the ministry, directing their payroll service providers to shape up or ship out.''

Ministry of Education Schooling Group resourcing senior manager Kevin Wilson said 99% of school employees had been paid correctly at the start of the 2008 school year.

‘‘The Education Service Payroll pays on average 85,000 employees per fortnight. The start of year is a critical period for payroll. At the start of this year, 64,733 changes were made for these employees, generating a 100% increase in workload for pay clerks.''

He apologised to all the affected schools and staff. ‘‘We are working with Datacom to resolve all the issues as quickly as possible,'' he said.

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