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Novopay bug could sack education staff

Published: 6:36PM Sunday March 17, 2013 Source: ONE News

A new bug in the beleaguered Novopay system could see education staff sacked at the end of the school term.

The glitch is threatening to terminate contracts on April 21, many of them the contracts of permanent teaching staff.

Epsom Girls Grammar School is among the affected schools, with 21 staff members scheduled for termination.

Deputy principal Fiona Cottam said she was concerned with how long it could take Novopay to fix the issue.

"My concern is that even if we do send the right paperwork down there will be a timelapse before they actually deal with it, so they will be terminated on the 21st of April."

The bug came to light on Friday when Auckland Primary Principals Association president Jill Corkin sent out an email to alert her members.

"A number of permanent staff in some schools have termination dates loaded on the Novopay system of 21 April 2013," she wrote.

"This appears to be a loading error on Talent 2's behalf."

As of tonight, 24 school principals have reported a total of 111 staff potentially in the firing line at the end of the term.

"It's got to be huge," said Corkin.

"If that's just one overnight sample from Auckland in response to the email that I sent out to alert people to it, then I think if every single school in the country was to go and check, you're going to have to imagine that it's very, very widespread."

Many of the principals ONE News spoke to today said they had tried to correct the termination date, with no luck.

Some said they noticed the glitch at the beginning of the school year, sent in the right forms and saw the error corrected. But since then the system has reverted their staff back to the old April 21 termination date.

The Ministry of Education said Novopay had 8500 staff listed as terminating at the end of term, and many of those would be correct.

It also said it was confident the bug could be fixed well before the deadline.

Cottam said the glitch would affect thousands of people.

"You've got all the people affected who are wondering if their job is secure, you've got the staff in the schools who have to deal with the paperwork to get it fixed," she said.

"You've got the accounts staff who are having to lend money, and then of course you've got all the people at Novopay whose work is going to be distracted again because there's yet another problem that they have to deal with on top of the huge workload they deal with already."

Corkin said teachers just needed a decent payroll system.

"I know they're out there cause we had one before," she said.

Novopay Minister Steven Joyce is expected to announce the results of a technical review into the education payroll system this week.