Figures show extent of Novopay bungle
Monday 7 Jan 2013 5:15 p.m.
New figures show schools have been forced to pay more than a half-a-million dollars in advances to teachers affected by the Novopay education debacle.
Hundreds more teachers were paid for work at schools where they'd never been employed.
Laurie Powell has spent countless hours trying to get answers from Novopay. He's still owed money, and has become so disheartened with the dysfunctional payroll system he's considering other job options abroad.
“I've got no guarantee or confidence in the system that's in place at the moment, so possibly I do have to consider overseas options,” he says.
And Mr Powell isn't the only one who's lost faith.
From August to November last year, 581 teachers were paid for work at schools where they've never worked. Schools advanced more than $560,000 to people incorrectly paid by Novopay. More than 7500 were underpaid or not paid at all by Novopay and more than 15,000 calls to Novopay's service centre have gone unanswered or were abandoned since the new pay system went live.
“Thousands of people are being underpaid or overpaid,” says Labour’s Education spokesperson, Chris Hipkins. “Some people who aren't even teachers anymore are being paid. It's just been a total shambles.”
Mr Hipkins got the specifics after complaining to Parliament's Speaker about the quality of information from Associate Minister Craig Foss.
“If I was [Education Minister] Hekia Parata or Craig Foss I would be asking serious questions about whether Novopay is ever going to deliver the goods, and if it isn't they need to do something about it now,” he says.
But the Education Ministry says its priority has always been to ensure that teachers and other school staff are paid correctly and on time, and arrangements are being made to reimburse schools.
Mr Powell says such assurances are not good enough, and the minister should find an alternative system.
“If I made those sort of mistake, I would get the sack,” says Mr Powell. “She should be accountable as well.”
The next round of Novopay payments is due this week.