The solution to the teacher payroll problem

Jody O’Callaghan writes at Stuff:

They’ve been overpaid, underpaid and not paid at all – now one teacher has been paid for being in two places at one time.

In the latest round of Novopay botches, the relief teacher was paid for working at schools in Upper Hutt and Auckland on the same day.

The Upper Hutt school, which did not want to be named, joked that a classroom of children must have been left reading silently, while their teacher caught a plane to Auckland.

This week’s pay cycle gave one teacher thousands of dollars more than they were owed, when they were paid for 39 days, instead of 39 hours.

And Fergusson Intermediate School deputy principal Shirley Porteous, of Upper Hutt, was randomly demoted by the new payroll system, so she supposedly now owes Novopay $1500.

Teacher unions and Labour education spokeswoman Nanaia Mahuta are demanding a parliamentary inquiry into the Education Ministry’s system, which was introduced nearly three months ago.

The performance of the new payroll system does appear to have been not satisfactory. Having said that, have to be careful to make every single error a major story. I imagine the old payroll system would always have a dozen or so errors in it, out of 60,000 or so teachers paid. What I’d be keen to see reported is how many errors have occurred each pay period since it was implemented.

I do feel very sorry for those teachers and schools that have to cope with not being paid. Worse of all for them, there is nothing they can do about it.

That is why I have a solution. . If we delegated salaries to every school, then each school would choose its own payroll provider (or do it themselves) and they could simply not use a company like Novopay, if there performance is not satisfactory.

UPDATE: A reader points out the contract with Novopay was approved in September 2008 by then Education Minister Chris Carter!

UPDATE2 I understand that in fact each pay period has around 100,000 pays from 2,300 schools and there are several hundred different pay rates and codes. This means that even a 99.9% accuracy rate will have 100 or so mistakes per pay period. Also what may not be known is that any staff member under paid or not paid by the central system, can and generally does get paid by the school out of their ops grant, so the staff member is not out of pocket. The Ministry then reimburses the school once the error is notified and corrected, So yes there are issues to be sorted out, but there shouldn’t be anyone out of pocket for more than a day.

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