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Remedial work in store for Novopay

14 Mar 2014

Novopay payroll and HR issues will be simpler to address due to changes to the Service Centre operating model, says Steven Joyce, Minister Responsible for Novopay.

As the remediation of the Novopay system continues, and the Start of Year processes wind down, Joyce says that improvements to the Service Centre are the next priority.

“The way the Service Centre operates has caused a lot of frustration for school administrators and staff,” Joyce says. “The Ministry of Education has been working on changes to the model with the sector in a project that began last September.”

In the next six months changes are also planned for improvements to the readability of payslips and regular administrative reports, and to reduce the complexity of the payroll system.

Joyce says that the payroll system is very complex, with problems caused by the introduction of two new pay systems in the last ten years.

“We need to take the opportunity to review the way staff are paid and look to make some technical adjustments to reduce the complexity that has built up over 25 years. I look forward to sector players working with the Ministry on that project.”

A further $10 million of additional work is budgeted by the Ministry until June 2014, with costs of remediation sitting at $33 million at the end of December 2013.

The most recent pay periods had ‘disappointing’ error rates, however they could be attributed in part to the Start of Year process, says Joyce. Pay Period 24, paid on the morning of the 19th February, had an error rate of 1.06% with 615 schools affected, while Pay Period 25 (5th March) had an error rate of 0.78% with 432 schools affected.

“The good news is that there have been very few software issues following the very significant work done on the programme in the last few months,” Joyce says. “The main problems have been traced to data entry errors, and the way the service centre model works, which continues to be very frustrating for school administrators.”

Solutions needed now says NZEI

However, NZEI Te Riu Roa spokesman Andrew Casidy says that the amount spent on fixing the Novopay system is ‘staggering’.

“Staff continue to be underpaid, overpaid and unpaid and frustrated at the hours being spent fixing their problems,” he says. “Resources need to go into fixes and training of service staff now… We need immediate solutions to current issues, not ‘planned changes in the next six months’.”

As a member of the Ministry’s Preferred Service Delivery Model for Novopay, NZEI had previously advised that time and resources need to be immediately focused on addressing current delivery system problems, not on devising a future model.

At the final meeting of the advisory group NZEI stated in a document that it cannot support further promotion and resourcing of the Preferred Service Delivery Model while insufficient focus and resources are addressing immediate problems with the current flawed system.

“Payroll processing has to improve before the sector can engage, not least because the level of frustration and lack of trust at the school level is now at dangerous levels.”

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