28 Jan 2013

Joyce signals Govt likely to stick with Novopay

9:45 pm on 28 January 2013

The minister responsible for sorting out the teachers' pay debacle has signalled that the Government is likely to stay with the Novopay system.

Steven Joyce has also warned next week's teacher pay day is going to be one of the toughest tests of the system so far.

The $30 million system developed by Australian company Talent2 has been plagued with thousands errors since it was introduced in August 2012 with underpayments, overpayments or no payments at all to some staff.

In a Cabinet reshuffle on 22 January, Mr Joyce was put in charge of sorting the problems out as soon as possible.

On Monday, he visited schools on Monday to get their view of the problem and said he fully understands their frustration.

The minister said there are a number of options that the Government can adopt.

"None of them are actually without some further pain in terms of the remediation of the system, whether it's changing horses mid-stream or staying with this one.

"My sense is that it's probably more likely to stat with this at this point, but I want to explore all those options and I haven't had the opportunity yet to do that."

Mr Joyce said adopting a new pay system would also carry risks and was likely to involve teething problems.

Next week's pay day for teachers was going to be particularly challenging, he said.

Plan B needed, says Labour

The Labour Party says the Government needs to have a contingency plan in place if the pay system continues to cause problems.

Acting education spokesperson Chris Hipkins does not disagree with the decision to stay with Novopay, but says more needs to be done.

"Saying that they're going to try and fix the current system does make sense, but making sure they've got a contingency in place so that if the current system can't be fixed they've got something to move to is really vital ... Steven Joyce should urgently be exploring that."

Mr Hipkins says one of the problems at the very start was that ministers did not ask if a contingency plan was available in case Novopay failed.