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Novopay legal action backed by Principals

Published: 5:24AM Wednesday February 27, 2013 Source: Fairfax/ ONE News

At least 23 school staff have resigned as a direct result of Novopay and Waikato principals are backing pending legal action over the education payroll "circus".

The Post Primary Teachers' Association (PPTA) yesterday announced it was launching a group legal action on behalf of its members because of the "untold stress and personal financial instability" Novopay has caused.

President Angela Roberts said the association would be seeking compensation for its members and was exploring legal options.

"We are trying to get our members to feed in some really accurate information about the quantity and complexity of the issues, and then we will work with our lawyers to work out which avenue we should take," Roberts told TV ONE's Breakfast this morning.

New Zealand Educational Institute, which represents primary schools, is also discussing legal action over Novopay, a spokeswoman said.

Some Waikato school principals back legal action, saying affected staff deserve compensation for the extra work, stress and mispayments.

The news comes as the New Zealand Principals' Federation revealed at least 23 school staff across the country have quit because of Novopay.

"We've had 1100 responses, which is about half our members, and at the moment the number of staff that have resigned is sitting around 23," president Philip Harding said.

"You could effectively just about double that and extrapolate it and make a guess that upwards of 40 people have now given up their jobs because of Novopay."

He said there were hundreds of staff under unreasonable stress and many more considering resignation.

He suspected it was mostly executive officers and payroll staff who had quit. It is not known whether any were working in Waikato.

"We're certainly getting anecdotal feedback that the stress and pressure's breaking people's hearts and the number of times that someone's emailed me to say that their staff are in tears would just stagger you.

"It is quite clear to me from principals' emails and phone conversations that schools are in crisis over this."

Hamilton's Melville High School principal Clive Hamill said he backed the PPTA in taking legal action.

"The bottom line is the situation is beyond our control and therefore those that are causing the situation need to put it right, and that would be compensation."

He said there was "no end in sight" for staff working through problems with the payroll system.

Over the holiday period a new staff member was paid $22,800 before he even started work. "It's a circus, really."

Hamilton Boys' High School director of administration Jan Missen also supported calls for compensation and said she could understand staff resigning as "stress levels are high".

"Payroll was a task that used to take me one day per fortnight - now it is for to five days per fortnight - this means I'm working 60-70 hours per week."

Roberts said the PPTA's national executive agreed on legal action at a meeting over the weekend.

Minister Steven Joyce, who has taken the helm of Novopay, said provider Talent2 was planning three software upgrades to address "the most significant bugs in the system".

One took place at the weekend and the next two would be in March and April.