Red Alert

Posts Tagged ‘Novopay’

Novopay shambles continues

Posted by on March 18th, 2013

Two months after Steven Joyce was brought in to fix the failing Novopay system, the problems are getting worse not better. Over the weekend we found out that hundreds of teachers have been unilaterally given the sack by the government’s payroll provider. That news came as a shock to them and to the schools they’re employed by. It’s a total disgrace.

This latest shambles follows news last week that Novopay provider Talent2 was using debt collectors to recover money from those who had been overpaid. It’s shocking that with thousands of people still being overpaid, underpaid and not paid at all, the government deemed this heavy-handed approach acceptable. Responsibility for this mess now rests with Steven Joyce. He either didn’t ask what steps Talent2 were taking to recover the overpaid money, in which case he is incompetent, or he signed it off, in which case he shows absolutely no understanding of the extent of the Novopay debacle.

Steven Joyce speaks of technical reviews and long-term solutions, but he needs to urgently deal with the massive problems Novopay is causing in schools right now. Despite seven months of chaos, schools still aren’t being compensated for all the extra work and stress Novopay is causing. I’ve had reports of schools taking on extra staff just to deal with payroll issues, not hiring relieving teachers when someone is sick because they don’t have the funds left, and cancelling equipment orders because they aren’t confident they’ll be able to pay for them. Yet still Steven Joyce does nothing.

Of course we need a long-term solution, but Steven Joyce can’t keep turning a blind eye to the turmoil Novopay is causing in the meantime. A comprehensive remediation and compensation package is long overdue. It’s time ‘Mr Fix-it” delivered one.

Newsflash – there’s a Novopay backlog!

Posted by on March 11th, 2013

At long last the government have finally gotten something to do with Novopay right. Yesterday on Q+A Steven Joyce announced that he is beefing up the Novopay Backlog Clearance Unit (BCU). This is something principals and school administrators have been calling for.

One of the common frustrations that I’ve been hearing from those trying to sort out the Novopay shambles is that the problems keep compounding. Schools don’t have time to get on top of the problems from one pay round and then another one rolls along and a whole lot more problems are created. Clearing the backlog will ease a lot of pressure, and I’m sure schools will welcome that.

I’m sure schools will also welcome Steven Joyce’s commitment to getting Novopay fixed within 3 months. People have been calling for a timeframe, and now Joyce has given them one. If he fails to live up to that commitment, the responsibility for that will fall squarely on his shoulders.

Responsibility for payout rests with Parata

Posted by on March 5th, 2013

Today the State Services Commission finally announced the details of Lesley Longstone’s departure package. Recall that Longstone resigned as CE of the Ministry of Education the week before Christmas, just after her Minister, Hekia Parata, had conveniently brought her holiday forward so she was away from any fallout.

In announcing her resignation, State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie cited a breakdown in Longstone’s relationship with Hekia Parata as one of the reasons for her leaving. To this day, Parata is still refusing to comment on the issue.

Responsibility for Longstone’s $425,000 payout rests squarely on Hekia Parata’s shoulders. Taxpayers are paying a hefty price, just so that National has someone else to blame for the Government’s stuff-ups in education. Let’s look at the big debacles:

  • Bigger class sizes was a policy signed-off by Cabinet as part of the Budget
  • The Christchurch school fiasco was all done under ministerial direction
  • Novopay was signed-off by Ministers (albeit on shonky advice)
  • Salisbury School’s closure, overturned by the courts, was Parata’s decision

Basically, Longstone is taking the fall for the government, and the taxpayers are forking out $425,000 as a result. The real accountability should be with the Minister. John Key promised Kiwis he would hold his ministers to a higher standard. Repeatedly he has failed to live up to that commitment.

Today’s pay-out is also a complete slap in the face to the thousands of school staff who are still waiting to be paid what they are owed by Novopay. It is galling to see so much money wasted on a severance payment when schools are still waiting for proper Government support to compensate them for the costs of the Novopay debacle.

School staff stress = non-compliance

Posted by on March 3rd, 2013

Hundreds if not thousands of schools up and down the country will have fallen foul of a Ministry of Education requirement for them to submit school charters by last Friday. The reason? Novopay!

In most schools, the same staff who deal with the payroll will also be dealing with compliance issues like charters. Given the choice between making sure people get paid or meeting Ministry compliance requirements, many schools have rightly focused on getting people paid.

Principals and schools tell me they’ve written to Ministers pleading for lenience on charters, but they’ve completely ignored them. Hekia Parata’s absolute arrogance and unwillingness to show lenience on already over-stressed school staff once again shows how out of touch and out of her depth she is as Minister of Education.

The Novo-shambles rolls on yet still the government refuses to do anything to relieve the massive pressure school administrators are under. Vague promises of a solution somewhere in the future just don’t cut it. Schools desperately need help and support now. Parata and Joyce should get off their backsides and start providing it.

Novopay Issues #1

Posted by on February 25th, 2013

Plenty has already been said about the Novopay shambles. The system was never ready for implementation, it never should’ve been signed-off, and the safeguards and contingencies that should have been in place weren’t. I’ll keep holding the government to account for their failure, but I’ll also be picking up specific issues and, where I can, working to ensure that people aren’t disadvantaged in the long-term because of Novopay.

Last week in the House I asked the Minister Responsible for Novopay, Steven Joyce, some questions about Novopay not handing over Kiwisaver contributions to savings providers. The money is being taken from employees pay packets, but it’s not showing up in their Kiwisaver accounts. In some cases I’m aware of, this has been going on for months and months. Not only are the employees concerned worried about where their money has gone, they’re also missing out on the returns that would otherwise have accrued had their money been paid over on time.

The most important comment Steven Joyce made was this one:

Chris Hipkins: Will employees who have had KiwiSaver or other superannuation contributions deducted from their salaries but not paid over to their scheme provider be compensated for lost returns that would otherwise have accrued, and if not, why not?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: My understanding is that yes, they will be made good in those regards.

I welcome this commitment by Joyce. It means that not only will people affected get their money back, they will be compensated for any returns that would’ve accrued in the meantime. I’ll be interested to see the details of exactly how they’re going to calculate that, and will ask some more questions in that regard.

There are other specific concerns about Novopay that I hope to address in coming weeks, including people defaulting on child support payments, justice ministry payments, student loan repayments, and so on. I’ll blog more about those as the answers come through.

They’re joking, right?

Posted by on November 15th, 2012

Please give me a moment while I drag my jaw off the floor. As the Novopay debacle continues to roll on week after week, as teachers and support staff continue to be overpaid, underpaid, or just not paid at all, some genius at the Ministry of Education has decided now would be a good time to restructure the Payroll Services Unit. Checked the calendar, it’s not April fools, they’re serious about this!

In their infinite wisdom the Ministry has decided to reduce personnel in the payroll team from 23 to 14. These staff need to be focused on fixing the Novopay mess, not wondering if they are still going to have a job in the New Year. They’ve been given two weeks to comment on whether or not they should still have jobs.

Maybe the top managers at the Ministry of Education should get their pay via Novopay. Perhaps if they went a couple of months without getting paid correctly they’d get serious about sorting this mess out.

It’s the job of whoever authorised this restructuring that should now be on the line, not the jobs of the people working to get things back on track. The senior leadership at the Ministry of Education need their heads examined.