21 Dec 2012

Novopay makes caretaker 'instant millionaire'

8:53 pm on 21 December 2012

The final payday for teachers this year has once again been rife with errors due to the Novopay system, including a caretaker's payslip showing a $100 million windfall.

Ronnie Moffat, who works at Mt Aspiring College in Wanaka, got the shock of his life when he discovered his holiday pay was being paid at more than $650,000 an hour.

He immediately rushed to the school office to correct the error.

Mr Moffat says he was thankful the massive sum did not arrive in his bank account on Friday - instead, he was underpaid by $110.

He says he's been short by more than $100 every payday since the system was introduced.

School principals, meanwhile, say the final payday has revealed more problems with the Novopay system.

They say holiday pay has not yet been sorted out, and part time teachers are not getting their full pay.

A number of principals have had to ask banks to cancel payments to staff who no longer work for them.

Thousands of staff have been incorrectly paid since the Novopay system for more than 92,000 school staff was introduced in August. The payday that would normally fall during Christmas week was brought forward to Friday 21 December.

The head of Snell's Beach Primary School in Auckland, Jill Corkin, told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme teacher aids have been overpaid and she has been battling all week for one teacher who hasn't received a full pay since the system was introduced.

A new problem appeared this week at Matakana School where four teacher aids have received thousands of dollars despite not having worked at the school at all this year.

Principal Darrel Goosen said the money - about $11,000 - goes straight out of the school's accounts.

"I mean, it's Christmas time, these people are suddenly going to have money in their account and one can only rely on goodwill for them not to spend it."

In Christchurch, Somerfield School principal Denise Torrey said previous problems remain unresolved, while some bizarre things have happened this time around.

"Staff members that we haven't seen or employed for 18 months or two years are now getting a significant amount of money," she said, while holiday pay problems have persisted.

Ms Torrey said she couldn't get through on the Novopay phone line at all on Thursday, and in cases when teachers have made contact, staff have been rude.

Waiting times to get speak to Novopay phone operators are this week at their highest since the introduction of the system.

According to its website, the average waiting time this week is 28 minutes, compared to the target for answering calls in no more than four minutes.

The Ministry of Education is insisting it still has confidence in Novopay and points out 73,000 payments were made last night.

Chief information officer Leanne Gibson said the system is improving and as new issues arise they are being identified and dealt with.