06 Sep 2013
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Novopay costs schools dearly

By Rebecca Wood

Web-based payroll system, Novopay, is costing the country’s schools an extra $100,000 per week in additional administration costs, according to an NZEI Te Riu Roa survey.

It’s been exactly a year since the beleaguered payroll system was introduced and schools now say that it has had a big impact on payroll staff as well as school resources.

NZEI national president, Judith Nowotarski says this is effectively a shift in costs from the Ministry of Education to individual schools, yet no funding has followed.

The survey shows that Novopay, even when working as it should be, is shifting approximately $100,000 of extra costs on to schools each week.

“Nearly 75% of schools surveyed report that Novopay has had a significant or extreme impact on the administrative role at their school, with the majority saying that the skills and responsibilities of their payroll staff have changed significantly and the job satisfaction of those staff has dropped significantly,” says Nowotarski.

“NZEI Te Riu Roa has long argued that schools were neither resourced nor trained adequately for the extra responsibilities the new pay system brought with it,” she says. “This cost is being ‘silently’ borne by the staff and the schools themselves at the cost of their core work – educating our tamariki.”

Over half of schools advise they have had to shift resources to meet Novopay workload demands with 82.26% of respondents reporting that their administrator was working an extra two hours or more per week.

“Whilst these figures look small, multiply them over 2,500 schools and it’s not difficult to see 5,000 hours per week or $100,000 per week in work time across primary and intermediate schools that the schools themselves are having to find to fund Novopay.”

Meanwhile, teachers across the country dressed in black yesterday to mark a year since the first pay run using Novopay.

Angela Roberts, PPTA president, says claims by minister responsible for Novopay Steven Joyce that most staff were now getting paid properly were “deeply disingenuous.”

In an August media release Joyce states “the backlog of 12,000 pay instructions has been cleared” – something Roberts insists is not the case.

"I can assure you, that backlog of issues is most definitely not clear,” she says.

Joyce’s glossing over the issue left the many teachers still struggling with pay issues feeling they had been forgotten, Roberts says.

“The minister has downplayed these teachers’ concerns. Yes we are making progress, but it is not good enough. Everyone has the right to expect to be paid correctly and be able to access leave. Novopay is not fixed, and it’s not okay."

PPTA is currently waiting for a court date to be set for a group legal action on behalf of members against the secretary for education for failing in his statutory duty to pay teachers.

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