The serial grizzlers are still on about Novopay

The Herald yesterday carried an article that New Zealand schools had advanced $560,000 to teachers to cover Novopay errors.

According to official figures there are 2358 schools in New Zealand. That means on average they have had to advance $125 237 each – not a big deal. Apparently there are 7500 staff who have been mispaid – just over 3 per school – also not worth ripping your hair out for. It isn’t a good look but clearly many people who should be focussed on improving the lot of kids are well and truly out of proportion distracted.

The grizzling of teachers is the opposite of the traits you would expect them to look for in their students. On TV3 last night serial whiner Laurie Powell threatened to leave the country and stated that if he made those kind of errors he would get the sack. If he is the same Laurie Powell listed on “rate my teachers” it is clear some of his students do consider he makes those kind of mistakes and would mind if he was in another country. 

This is what he had to say back on December 19:

“If you perform that poorly in a position of such responsibility, I think your number’s up pretty fairly early on, especially for such a major cockup that took place,” says Auckland teacher Laurie Powell.

Maybe he should have some integrity with regards to his threats – resign and leave.

Once again Chris Hipkins was the Labour spokesperson on this. Clearly the silent coup demotion of Nanaia Mahuta has been confirmed.


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  • Pissedoffyouth

    Labours leftovers? JOHN KEYS FAULT!

  • Phar Lap

    To listen to hear the Newstalk fill in this morning,name of Susan Wood.On the matter ,Her comments reeked of a no news day.She was so over the top ,i am sure some people would need counselling.Seemed she was lost in the woods,and maybe would, like to be the new minister of education.Pity we have to put up with such an ill informed Mike Hoskins fill in.Hurry back Mike,and keep out the ignorant carpet bagger fill ins.

    • Whafe

      Agree, Susan Wood was a total yawn on this topic this morning. For sure a no news day in her opinion….

    • AnonWgtn

      Having once been a close neighbour in Devonport of Susan Wood I would not consider anything she screams about with any goodwill.
      She ain’t no sweetness and like.

  • Pete George

    The Novapay rollout seems to have been a mess, but it’s very difficult to judge how much of a mess. It’s common for payrolls, especially large ones, to have inaccuracies. Is three overpays per school worse than last year? Is it worse than other comparable payrolls? If so, how much worse? It’s hard to believe they were 100% accurate then.

    But it’s also possible they are not 100% accurate now. Not all employees who get overpaid report it, some stay quiet hoping – they are far more likely to report if underpaid.

    And another factor is greater awareness, many people don’t check their pay carefully, but with all the Novopay publicity more employees are likely to have checked their pays more carefully.

    • I am told that the Novapay schedule is around $170m is paid out each fortnightly education payday…it appears the fucks ups are tiny…less than half of a percent of the payroll

      • Gazzaw

        In which case Cam why is it taking months to sort out such a tiny proportion of fuck ups? I’m not siding with the teachers here but I do have a lot of empathy for the individuals who have either been paid incorrectly or not at all for months. Sure, the problems are being sorted at local level with help from the banks or BOT funds but that’s not the point.

        What pisses me off even more is that the government has totally lost the upper ground on this by dint of sheer mnisterial incompetence. The public perception is that Hipkins is the working class hero and let’s face it he’s done everything right including high visibility right through the Christmas/New Year break when Parata has deserted her post. That’s called commitment.

      • Teachersrock

        Nothing is tiny when it is your pay that is screwed up.

        • Callum

          And the schools fund it directly until your pay is sorted out but guess what? The schools are having trouble getting the money advanced back from the teachers once their pay has been fixed up.

          • Teachersrock

            And the reason for that is, you cannot simply pay the whole sum back in one whack.

          • Callum

            Why not?

          • Teachersrock

            Depending on when the problem is fixed, you could leave employees in a situation where they broke.

            Better to take small amounts back to avoid that situation. Also better for Novopay to not make the screw ups in the first place.

          • Hazards001

            To Callum “Depending on when the problem is fixed, you could leave employees in a situation where they broke.
            Better to take small amounts back to avoid that situation. Also better for Novopay to not make the screw ups in the first place.”

            I have been in the past (along with being self employed) and am currently paid a salary once a month, The same amount goes into my account on the the night it’s meant to with only a few cents one way or the other variation, which I assume is tax adjustments.I have been underpaid from time to time as a wage earner and overpaid.On those occasions my employer at his expense topped up my wage to the correct amount or had the bank reverse the payment then repaid me the correct amount. And was also liable for any penalty payments imposed by the bank or creditors for late payments.

            I have always had a pretty clear grasp on is how much I should be paid. Are you telling us school teachers can only see a payment problem if it’s on the low side?

            Your statement regarding taking back overpayments is total bullshit. When I’ve been overpaid it was required that it was all paid back and I know this is enshrined in law. It is in fact theft to take and spend money that does not belong to you even if you got it via an overpayment. IE a 10 million dollar overdraft.

          • Oh so a loan…when it is fixed the whole amount is paid, so why can;t it be paid back immediately…the only reason why it can;t be is that the teachers have used it as a free overdraft.

          • Ronnie Chow

            Should be taken straight back out of their account , like the banks do . Otherwise , you’ve stolen from them and it becomes a police matter .

          • Economist

            Naa. if they reported it less that 24 hours after they payment- do ’em for fraud

            Oh whoop, that’s a report to the techers’ council and automatic deregistration. What a pity.

          • Teachersrock

            Good lord you are a spiteful fool.

            Now, please do not forget to threaten me by saying you are going to report me to the TC.

          • Dumrse

            Fuck you talk shit.

          • Teachersrock

            Well if facts and the truth are shit to you, I suggest you worry about yourself rather than others.

          • Ronnie Chow

            Do you want to tell us that teachers pay fluctuates ? Get real !

            Every teacher that was overpaid by more than a few dollars , knew it .

            So they sit and wait ? Spend it as a bonus ? Teachersrock , besides being decidedly lower decile yourself ; Quote (a situation where they broke ?) , you are sticking up for the teachers who are poor role models for their students.

          • Callum

            You will note I said “once the pay has been fixed up”.

            When the teacher has the pay fixed up by Novapay why could they not pay back advances from their school from what they are paid by Novapay? These are supposed professionals, are they so poor with money that when they receive the correct funds from Novapay their first thought isn’t to repay the school that advanced the funds to them when they were short paid. Spending money that doesn’t belong to you is theft, plain and simple.
            I have seen this situation regularly under the old system too, new teacher starts and the pay isn’t processed correctly (or filed correctly by the school/wrong details from the teacher usually). School advances funds to see them through, payroll gets sorted and teacher gets backpay for the missed wages but cries poor and says they can’t afford to repay the school straight away. Simple maths says they are lying.

          • Teachersrock

            They do, but the schools have to give access to bank accounts so money can be transferred back to schools, or teachers have to take out a couple of thousand, hand it over, the office person then has to head off and bank it, along with doing all the other normal daily duties.

            I am not saying the previous pay company was perfect, but the never screwed up like this lot are. The MoE knew there were problems because they carried out test runs before putting Novopay in place. They ignored them, the Minister ignored them and went ahead despite knowing there would be major problems.

            The conspiracy nut side of me has even entertained the idea the Minster did this to schools on purpose because of the grief she has gotten. Because there has to be some reason why she ignored the test run problems and went ahead regardless.

          • Callum

            Do you live in the dark ages or something?
            I heard they invented this thing called internet banking, get number of school bank account and transfer funds. Not very hard, I manage to pay lots of stuff that way.
            The fact is supposedly professional teachers are NOT repaying the funds, there is no justification for that.

    • SJ00

      One also has to wonder how many of the errors are human inputted. I’m guessing the schools have to login and enter the hours each teacher has worked that week? Who is to say that most of these issues are because teacher A had 4 hours instead of 40 entered, or 400 instead of 40. Its easier to blame Novopay than getting on the news and saying ‘oh I made a cockup when I entered the hours’.

      As for Laurie Powell, what an empty, stupid threat to make. He isn’t getting paid correctly (apparently) so the only option left for him is to go overseas? He should go, if thats how he thinks and teaches. Going overseas is so easy, just spray and walk away (from everything here). Jobs are plentiful overseas. The people will welcome you with open arms. They will throw money at you. They will sing your praises for leaving the terrible NZ who can’t pay people and welcome you to the Utopia that is ‘overseas’.
      Piss off. I bet he doesn’t go.

      • Ronnie Chow

        Many schools had chosen to fax or phone-through the information needed to pay teachers.

        I can just imagine.

    • Callum

      I’ve audited schools for a number of years, the previous system was a complete dog that took years to straighten out. I remember 2 or 3 years where most BoT’s would not sign off on the end of year SUE report (Statement of Usage and Expediture) which listed the totals paid to each staff member for the year as they did not believe they were accurate.

  • ConwayCaptain

    Apparently the number of awards and contracts in the Ed Sector is incredible. Also the no of part timers on diff hours each pay period also. However these people have had 5b years or so to set it up and there were HORRENDOUS errors.

    • Economist

      Yep. This is the core of the problem.

  • Gazzaw

    Cameron, I’m afraid that you can’t polish the turd that is Novapay, its rollout, the departmental inadequacies or the seriously dysfunctional minister that is handling the issue. Regrettably Hipkins has secured the higher political ground on this and labour rightly or wrongly is perceived as being the good guys. It is an unmitigated PR disaster for the Nats and Parata should have been dismissed from her post a couple of months ago.

    The fact that she is still on leave is an appalling look. As per usual it is lack of communication at the coalface that’s the major problem – we all know what its like to be waiting for ages on a ‘hotline’ only to be cut off, hung up on or in this instance be told that you can only ask one question. It’s infuriating, it’s unacceptable and it needs addressing yesterday.

    Would it be acceptable to anyone here to be living on your bank’s goodwill with an interest free overdraft to cover your mortgage and living expenses? I think not.

    Arses need kicking, the department is as usual hopelessly dysfunctional and the Nats need a real rocket. Sure, labour signed up the deal with Novapay but the Nats have been in power for four years now & that’s plenty of time to either get the system working or to have canned it.

    • SJ00

      Lets not forget, that Novopay was initiated under the Labour government. I believe it is the largest or one of the largest payroll systems in NZ. It wasn’t built overnight, in some form or another Novopay would have been kicked off under a Labour government. I was in Min Ed in the mid 2000s and people were pulling their hair out about the payroll system then (old one couldn’t cope and the new one planned was already running into issues).

      No system is perfect. It does sound like Novopay was rolled out too early and should have had more testing/development, but on the other hand, I do think the unions are stirring shit up for the sake of it. We are being given the big picture ‘x teachers not paid this week’ but not the reasons why (most people don’t care or wouldn’t understand).
      Is the code flawed?
      Was the testing rubbish?
      Are there ‘scenairos’ that weren’t thought about when testing was done (ie special cases).
      Is it human error?
      Is the hardware not keeping up (unlikely).
      Have the Indian developers produced something that whilst is basically working suffers from bigger issues (I’m guessing it was outsourced to an Indian company.. I know alot of govt departments send their development work overseas).
      Just how many ‘problems’ are occurring each week, and how many are being fixed moving forward.
      Etc etc etc.

      • Whafe

        It is far too difficult for any media org’s in NZ to actually ask some of the real questions as to why there are so many issues. Far easier to dance around the side and hammer the so called right

    • No problems there except I am now starting to wonder at the real size of the problems, or whether this has been beaten up massively by the unions and schools.

      You won’t find me sticking up for Hekia…but now some facts are starting to emerge it is really looking like a massive beat up.

      Some teachers have been over-paid…they have kept that real quiet…and I understand some are balking at having to pay back the over payments…having found it nicked spent it to paraphrase Blackadder.

      • Gazzaw

        I’ve no doubt at all that the situation is being beaten up by the unions and by PSA activists within the Min of Ed. Why wouldn’t they? It’s an absolute gift from heaven & Hippy damn him is calling every shot.

      • Teachersrock

        Never miss a chance to twist the truth and attack teachers aye Whale.

        How typical.

        Novopay assured the Government they were ready, That there would be no problems. This is not a “beat up”, this is a screw up on the Ministry’s part for rushing to introduce it. Many issues were highlighted during the test phase, but were ignored in order to get this in place as fast as possible.

        I don’t care if it was Labour or National who caused this, the Government of the day should be fining Novopay for every single mistake they make. That would sure as hell get the problem sorted quickly,

        Oh and no they have not kept the fact teachers have been over paid quiet. That has been all over the news as well.

        • Ronnie Chow

          Surely Novopay have a contract ?

      • Arnie

        What was the error percentage under the old scheme? Probably similar I would think. Any worthy News organization would have made these inquires. But that would mean the end of Novapay being news worthy.

  • Callum

    Given we have such wonderful professional teachers, any over-payments will have been promptly repaid to the school therefore no school should be out of pocket….

  • Whafe

    There is no doubt that this whole topic will be being blown out of all proportion by the pinko’s etc etc. Yep Labour signed Novapay up etc etc.
    But National need to go hard and sort this shit out, it is lingering like a dog turd on the front lawn, it is now almost white…. National need to show some true leadership on this one and sort it out, and fast….
    That pathetic individual Hipkins will milk this for all its worth

    • Callum

      One of the big problems trying to fix it is all the embedded lefties within the MoE, they have a vested interest in problems not being solved.

      • Whafe

        Totally agree Callim, the Pinko’s imbedded in the MoE will be wanting this to not be sorted for as long as possible, they wi”really” be worried about there buddies getting incorrect wages etc

      • Teachersrock

        If you think the MoE is filled with lefties then you are wayyyy off base.

        • Ronnie Chow

          How many have been teachers ? What’s if filled with ? Hairy front bums? Ethnic quotas ? I thought it was a natural dumping ground for coaches rather than players , if you get my drift .

  • Bunswalla

    I’m no Stephen Hawking Cam, but I don’t think $560,000 divided by 2,358 is $125. It’s almost double that amount, but I take your point. Perhaps Novopay did the calculation?

  • GregM

    I don’t care who signed the novopay contract, or how many staff are on the payroll, this needs to be sorted yesterday. People must be paid the correct amount on time, every time, no excuses.
    This issue is showing the ministry, and the Government up as being weak, yet again, and once more we are waiting for somebody to show some leadership.
    Hekia, it’s time to go.

    • Indeed. and important finance system like this should have been thoroughly tested, including running in in parallel for a number of months.

      And if it was tested properly and failed testing then it shouldn’t have been rolled out.
      And if it was tested properly and passed testing then the question is was the old system generating the same errors (which would suggest a process problem rather than software)

  • AnonWgtn

    Why cannot I find more information about Novapay’s predecessor company.
    They must have been perfect as I cannot find otherwise.
    I only have found out that they struggled for 5 years to get out of the paper controlled contract.
    Now that Novopay is computerised is it possible that the school staff inputters are really not trained sufficiently. Is it possible that more accuracy is required as the computer system no doubt double checks everything, instead of accepting the paper trail it had been given.
    Or is it just political to embarrass the Ministry to ensure that Teachers and their cohorts run Education, not Government.
    Hope that Judith Collins is new Minister – if that does not worrry them, it should.
    Of course the simple alternative is to ressurect Bulk Funding and let each school handle the payrolls.

    • I think you will find that some of the data corruption issues are a result of the poor data being passed over.

    • Callum

      Schools didn’t process their own pay under bulk funding, it was still done through Datacom because they lack the skills and it was far more efficient to do centrally. They simply had the money deducted from their bank accounts, same as happens for support staff now.

    • Callum

      Quick Google found this –
      The major problems I dealt with were around 1999/2000 from memory, this highlights though that the old system was no better after years of operation.

    • Callum

      This here seems to highlight just how badly the public sector seems to handle these sort of changeovers.
      I guess Datacom had all the same issues when first rolled out.

    • Auto_Immune

      “Now that Novopay is computerised is it possible that the school staff
      inputters are really not trained sufficiently.” That’s certainly what Talent2 seems to think… …not that I’m completely siding with them, their change management was clearly useless.

    • Richard McGrath

      Agree with the bulk funding sentiments. As Cam has pointed out in the past, an instant solution to the teachers’ pay woes.

  • Blossom

    I am on the Novapay payroll and have had no problems which is more than I can say for when I was paid through school support…

  • Rat

    Jeez…now this is Shark jumping in an almost Farrar scale. It reminds me of the saying that statistics are used like a drunk uses a lamp post, for support, not for illumination

  • DavidW

    I would be curious to know how many “errors” are actually the correct amounts being paid after years of wrong or overpayment that has gone unnoticed or unreported previously.

  • Economist

    It is a basic fact of IT systems implementation that you cannot fix organization problems via technical means

    The problem that has destroyed Novopay is a very simple one – teacher unionization. Thanks to unions, teachers in NZ can be employed under one or more of something like
    thirteen different collective agreements, leading to wildly complex combinations of employment conditions, up to ten thousand combinations of terms & conditions in NZ.

    Listen here about 13:15 onwards:

    (Yes, radiosocialism – they clearly don’t understand the implications of Lesley Longstone’s answers)

    This problem cannot be solved by technology. Bulk funding doesn’t help either, it just means individual schools have to pay according to the legacy collective agreements. The only solution is to abolish the unions, abolish the collective contracts, and then employ teachers the way everyone else is paid in the private sector, on simple, straightforward contracts that pay a set dollar amount without any special terms and conditions. At that point, an off-the-shelf payroll system will do the job, no need for crazily expensive bespoke software.

    Ask anyone in IT or CS in NZ (not in schools on payrolls)— this is absolutely basic.

    • Teachersrock

      So the unions caused Novopay to screw up.

      Wow, you really are amazingly stupid.

  • KiaOra

    Who is Novopay?
    Is it an Australian company?
    The prev payroll I think was a govt dept Interserve that became part of the private company Cognition. In October 55 payroll staff at cognition in Normandy Rd were made redundant. They were New Zealanders and many had been doing the same job doing the payroll for about 16,000 teachers since time began. I cannot recall ever seeing in the media problems with teachers pay. Obviously such a huge and complicated payroll will be challenging so why not iron the bugs out before going live? I realise the new system must have cost benefits to the Government, but seriously? This is just stupid.