Teacher Payroll Whining Same Old, Same Old

The teacher unions are kicking up a stink because of ongoing problems with Novopay…of course they have never been happy with even the previous provider.

Check this press release from the NZPF in February 2008:

The New Zealand Principals’ Federation has criticised the Ministry of Education, following major payroll errors which have created a bureaucratic nightmare across the country.

Datacom is contracted by the Ministry of Education to provide payroll services to more than 80,000 New Zealand teachers. The latest payroll round – the first of the school term – is filled with errors, says NZPF President Paddy Ford.

“A number of schools have not received any pay, and many support staff have been paid the incorrect amounts. Staff who are on leave have incorrectly received full pay, changes that were sent to Datacom in November have not been actioned, and staff are being forced to fill forms out twice with exactly the same information.”

Ford has today received numerous complaints from schools up and down the country, and he says this latest debacle is not surprising given the numerous errors seen in 2007.

Sound familiar?…it is almost word for word the tripe they trotted out yesterday. It seems that every year at the beginning of the year they set up their whining at aircraft engine proportions.

This was in 2008 and their press release mentions similar problems in 2007. I wonder how many others there were?


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  • SJ00

    I guess most of us have forgotten this sort of rubbish.. which means in about 4 weeks no one will care about Novopay either (apart from the millions of teachers not being paid).

    • Teachersrock

      Wrong. This has been going on for months and months now. And until it is fixed it is not going to leave the news.

      • 4077th

        Cry us a river! FFS just get on with it Kosh. Enjoy your remaining 3 weeks holiday while the rest of us have been working to pay your wages.

      • SJ00

        Mainly because a certain section of people keep pushing it into the media.. if we had a choice of what stories were going to be on the air each night, I bet we wouldn’t be voting for whining teachers to be the lead story.. (actually its quite funny watching them get their tits in a tangle).

        But, guessing from your comment, you have personally been affected by Novopay pay blunders? Can you answer some questions to clear things up for us joe publics?
        1) How many pays of yours have been stuffed up?
        2) Have you been overpaid, underpaid or not paid each time?
        3) Assuming you or your school told talent2 about the error in your pay, was it fixed straight away? Or does the same mistake keep re-occurring?
        4) What is the error that keeps happening? Patterns?

        The thing with payrolls is they are a computer program. They are programmed to take input, process, and give a result or output. If for example you input 40 hours and it pays you for 38, clearly something is going wrong. I’m betting the initial problems were more scenario based ones, which can be identified and fixed as they occur. Testing can pick up most of these, depending on the testing team, but from personal experience, there are always things that were accounted for in the specs. I’m sure problems will pop up from time to time moving forward.

  • Wasn’t it the unions that negoiated the most complex salary scale award…so complex that whoever is the provider must deal with a nightmare every year?

    • Teachersrock

      Actually when primary teachers got pay parity with high school teachers they were lumped with a Frankenstein version of the HS system.

      NZEI has put foward a more basic system to the MoE in the latest rounds of contract talks, so far the MoE has turned them down.

      If you want to blame someone for the “intresting” pay system, I suggest you blame the correct people.

      • Dave

        The correct people would be Labour Kosh, more useless than tits on the proverbial Bull. The architecture and base programming was done whilst they were in power. And Kosh/Meg/Mr Teacher – Interesting is not spelt…… intresting. Please, as a teacher, get your basic grammar and spelling right.

        • Allyson

          Precisely, this is what you get when a trade union tail wags a Labour govt dog. Labor govt plus educational unions equals dogs bollyx. A major reason Labor must never be allowed in power again.

    • Economist

      Absolutely. Worse than that, 13 different collectives, with very many teachers across several of ’em. That’s the crap that needs to be cleared out.

    • Allyson

      I understand that if teacher cancels autopayment of union dues from their pay that all bugs immediately disappear

  • AnonWgtn

    Have heard that a number of overpayments have not been returned.

  • Phar Lap

    Hope Susie Woods from Newstalk ZB reads this.

    • paddles83

      That bleeding Heart Bitch will follow.

  • Greg

    You have got to say that anybody would be pissed if you hadn’t been paid for weeks, whether its a small number or large no money means no BEER.

  • Shoreboy57

    Solution – bulk fund the schools – each school deals with their own payroll, Solved

    • Economist

      Again: nope, not so long as the teachers’ conditions and collective agreements are not eliminated (meaning the unions have to go too) and the teachers put on to simply hourly contracts like eveyone else has been on since 1991

  • Andrei

    If people have not been paid what they are entitled to on the date that it is due they are entitled to complain.

    That is not whining, that is a legitimate beef

    • SJ00

      True. But then why are we not getting numbers through? I am seeing a principal or teacher pop up here and there and say ‘people are not getting paid’. How many? The same people? Different people?

      At the moment, people are whining on behalf of other people. Poor principal tonight, in his jandals, had to go to school to sort out problems. Seriously, how many problems did he need to sort out. It should be simple. Teacher A worked X hours, at $$ rate, their pay should be X x $$ = pay. Instead they got $$. Please fix. That took me 10 seconds to write. Put that into an email or phone call, leave it with talent2 and go back to your holiday. If you need to do it for more than 1 teacher, the formula is the same. Perhaps the people in charge of teaching our kids are too thick to work simple things out and might be better off finding a different job.

      • Bunswalla

        School pay clerks, and principals, won’t be talking to Talent2, the supplier of the software They will be talking to the MoE Help Desk who will determine if it’s an operator error (by now probably 95% will be PEBKAC) or a system fault. If the latter, they will report it to Talent2.

      • Teachersrock

        Before you can fix the problem you first have to get a hold of the buggers. That in its self is no easy task.

        • GregM

          Tend to agree, my teacher friend has had endless emails to the novopay helpdesk, mostly without any solutions being offered. I have said before and I will say it again, people must be paid the correct amount every time, on time, no exceptions.
          I would still like to know how bad it actually is, without the spin from all sides.

          • Lofty

            Yes, correct.
            My daughter who has been not paid 2 pays in a row, (but got all owed this week) say that the payclerk at her college has aged 20 years since the introduction of the system, the portal works, but the support staff are less than useless even when you can get hold of them, acccording to her.

    • Kimbo


      Just like when priests molest kids, people are entitled to complain.

      That is not whining, that is a legitimate belief.

  • jonno1

    Two of my biggest clients failed to pay me on 20 Dec 2012 due to systemic problems, then all their A/cs Payable staff went on leave. Thousands of dollars involved. Am I upset? No, not particularly, stuff happens, plus I maintain a reasonable cash float, so no worries at all. BUT, if I were younger with a mortgage and kids still at home then yes, I might be a bit peeved (and stretched).

    • Pissedoffyouth

      Cash float? Thats what the benefit is for!

      Just kidding, good job on not buying a new v8 for Christmas

      • jonno1

        Must admit I was tempted, so maybe they did me a favour. Sadly, I’ve also been looking at 3 litre diesels like that lovely Mr Key uses.

        • Dave

          Jonno Have the same thing here, non payment, currently debtors are approx 30% higher than normal, so no expenditure ATM. If your after a high performance diesel, recommend the VW, have 2 now, bloody amazing handling, comfort, grunt and economy.

          • Callum

            New VW’s are great, just don’t own them long enough to become old (or out of warranty).

          • GregM

            Shit I’ve been lucky. Everyone actually paid me on time in Dec for the first time ever.

    • disqus_iLFb4un2ur

      Yeah, but thats why the banks have all agreed to carry the teachers over this period so they can still have xmas prezzies under the tree for their kiddies.

  • bigbruv

    Am I the only one who is having trouble working up any sympathy for the teachers who are having problems with Novapay?

    Perhaps it is poetic justice, but I simply don’t give a toss.

    Of course the answer to their problem is simply to return to bulk funding…

    • Economist

      Of course the answer to their problem is simply to return to bulk funding…

      Nope. This solves nothing: if anything, it makes it worse, if schools have to pay teachers according to the current collective agreements.

      Eliminating those agreements, paying teachers only on individual contracts… now you’re talking!

      • disqus_iLFb4un2ur

        OMG – hope you dont mean Pay for Performance!!! LOL

        • Economist

          Of course. Once teachers are switched to individual, hourly contracts then this is very easy to achieve.

          • Dion

            What, like the rest of the work force?! Surely you jest.

  • Mr_V4

    We endlessly hear about how “complex” the payment system is for teacher, but the key Q is why? TThe vast majority of eachers must generally know where they are teaching a decent time in advance, it can’t be a surprise. Yes you need to have a system that allows for relief teachers and extra hours teachers work to be paid, but surely you can easily have a system that pays the monthly base salary and then has an extra component that periodically pays the supplementary hours. Get rid of a fortnightly payment cycle for a start esp. for the full-time or even part timers with well defined hours.

    So why the complexity, is it just to keep employed an army of mandarins in Wellington

    • Teachersrock

      If the government accepted the new pay structure being suggested by NZEI then things would be considerably simpler.

      I think though, given what I have heard about the way the government negotiation team has been behaving, they would refuse the greatest ideas in the history of education if they came from NZEI.

    • Alex

      Most of the problems are occurring with teachers who aren’t on bog standard contracts, that is support staff, fixed term, part time, relief etc.

    • Economist

      It’s primarily historical. There are 13 (at least )union-based collective agreements, each with a vast number of historical benefits and bonuses. Many teachers or support staff who have more than one nominal “job” can be covered on two or more of these collectives, again each with a set of different parameters.

      easily have a system that pays the monthly base salary and then has an extra component that periodically pays the supplementary hours

      this approach is part of the mess. What you need is a system where the principal pays the teacher for the work they’ve done that much, depending on what quality the principal thinks the work was done at. But this approach is completely impossible with collective contracts, and with unions.

      That’s why the only long-term solution to this problem is to legally remove unions from all state sector and state funded employment relationships, getting every teacher (nurse, bureaucrat etc) on essentially hourly contracts – just like everybody else – and at the end of the month the principal works out how much each teacher deserves and pays them that.

  • disqus_iLFb4un2ur

    Heard on Whinge FM (aka Radio Live) this evening – they were trying to talk listeners into ‘supporting teachers if they decide to strike over the Novopay ‘crisis’!! “Do you think the teachers should strike?”
    If I had the heartbeats to stop driving and sit on the phone for 20mins I would have called up and said “Hell No!” and “Crisis My Arse!!”
    I didnt realise that the Teacher Unions owned Radio Live!!

    • NZatlarge

      I suppose the expect to be paid for the strike day? Good thing they’re not being paid at all

  • Beejills

    She’s an attractive looking Maori. Unfortunately, her brain does not match her looks. The minister needs to re-read her Ministerial folder and then resign. It’s quite simple really … the Novapay scandal is her responsibility.

  • Ururoa

    Hold on a minute, no matter how many different collective agreements, benefits, payments etc. there are, these were all no doubt in place when Talent2 tendered to provide the software for the payroll service. So whatever system they came up with it should have been 100% capable of managing all those different variables. Whatever we think of teachers, unions, individual contracts vs collectives etc., the fact is that Talent2 have presided over one monumental clusterfuck of a software development. One hopes their name is mud in the industry now and that they suffer accordingly.

    The people who should be getting the boot for this is Talent2, followed by the MOE (assuming they actually bothered to oversee the development and tested it before rolling it out). Why can something as complex as a DHB/hospital manage payroll (far more variables than a school!) but Talent2/MOE can’t?

    • Economist

      A hospital/DHB payroll is much less complex than all the school payrolls over the whole country. And yes, Datacom did manage – eventually – to get their legacy system running more or less right, and schools worked out how to work with (and around) that system. But of course that system is very inflexible, cannot handle direct data entry via web forms (as Novopay is trying to do).

      The fact remains that the key driver of cost here is domain complexity. Could Talent2 & the ministry have been more conservative? Sure, in particular they could have tried to run both systems in parallel, and in retrospect that might seem like a good idea – until you realize that school administratiors would have had to provide all their information in duplicate to both systems for as long as the parallel running continued. Doing that over the busiest period of the year is practical infeasible for most schools, let alone the ministry – but of course that is when many of the problems surfaced.

      But the underlying dynamic remains, pretty much the first law of information systems design: you can fix broken organisations with technology.

      Put all the teachers onto simple hourly contracts and all the problems go away.

      • Ururoa

        You cannot get people to operate according to an arbitrary software algorythm. The software should be designed to match the people’s behaviour, not the other way round.

        Talent2 knew all of the possible variables before they took on the contract. They contracted to deliver a system that took into account those variables, yet have failed miserably. They are surely in breach of contract and should lose whatever funding they have to date for failing to deliver as contracted.

  • The
    Prime Minister drew up a shortlist of 3 candidates to determine who was
    best suited to become the Minister of Education and asked them all the
    same question, “What is 3 times 3? After an hour of scratching his head
    and with a confused look on his face the first candidate said, “Two

    The second candidate replied “Thursday!”

    And the final candidate who got the job said “9”

    Relieved the Prime Minister asked “How did you work it out?”

    The newly appointed Minister for Education says, “It was easy, I multiplied 200 x Thursday and then I added three!”