More Lies from Secretary Lesley Longstone regarding Novopay

TVNZ news tonight made an outrageous claim on behalf of the Ministry of Education that the 8000 errors from the first 2 pay rounds have now been cleared

I have information from teachers that say this is false. No money has arrived in their accounts. And there has been no contact from the Ministry.  Do Novopay actually know how many errors there really are?  I suspect not? The Ministry is most certainly aware of the people I am writing about I have seen emails from the Ministry promising resolution on specific days or pay rounds.

The Ministry is a signatory to the collective agreements and as such has a liability to the teachers affected by their inaction regarding Novopay error.  Teachers should not be forced to attempt redress from innocent schools.   That the Minister Hekia Parata and her associate Minister Craig Foss find the Dishonesty of the Staff of the Ministry of education acceptable is incredible and it calls into question the validity and reliability of all advice from the Ministry.  The Ministry seems more like a headless dragon than a cohesive force for the advancement of education in this country.

That Mr Foss has faith still in the Novopay Management defies belief.

Who are the Experts on the Novopay Governance Board?

I wrote to the Ministry of Education seeking information on the Novopay Governance Board Members. This Board is made up of Ministry and Talent2 management along with some “Payroll Experts” from the private sector.  The Ministry is being extremely protective of this group and I have uploaded a copy of their response.

Experience has taught me that when any person or organisation works so hard to keep a secret there’s usually an embarrassing reason behind it.  Needless to say my suspicions are working overtime.  Maybe the experts aren’t so expert and the question would then be what were they doing there.  If anyone can enlighten me please use the comments section or email me at .  Needless to say I have written to the Ombudsman requesting assistance

Dear Sir/Madam,

Re: complaint regarding the Ministry of Education and Novopay

There is little doubt that both the Minister and the Ministry have misled both parliament and the public with statistics and details of this project. If Novopay were a public company the information I have requested would be publicly available I see no reason why this publicly funded organisation should be treated any differently.

Also of concern is that the Ministry is trying to manipulate reporting on the project by delaying the release of information to prevent accurate and timely reporting. The request I made was for information that should have been immediately available delaying this till the maximum period allowed by the Act serves only the Ministry’s self-interest and is against, I believe, Parliaments intention regarding freedom of information and the intention of the act.

Public expectation of our public service is of honesty and integrity, the only threat to any organisations Political neutrality is if they don’t operate neutrally.  Public interest on publicly funded projects certainly outweighs any protection that should be offered to any political or public service organisation seeking to minimise responsibility.

Individuals who present themselves as experts or specialists in projects that are publicly funded should expect when these projects fail to deliver the promised results to have their credentials and remuneration examined. The public interest in the investment of public money should always outweigh any privacy issues for work performed in the public arena.

This has been a very expensive project involving public expenditure approaching $30m and the result has affected many thousands of New Zealanders. A copy of the Ministry of Educations response is attached I am seeking clear and concise answers to the questions asked.

Yours faithfully,

Rob Owen

Change in the wind at Novopay

Change on the way at Novopay.  Fulltime fixed term contract is on offer at the Ministry of Education although it appears they are looking for an internal secondment

It’s certainly time for some changes in the management of this project. But most frighteningly perhaps this is a further indication that Novopay was not ready for release and they have identified the next area of concern teachers should have.  Are the references to end of year processing and rollover an indication of problems to come?

It’s a long way past time for some honesty and openness from the Ministry.  Perhaps there’s a teacher out there prepared to let go of their secure unchanging stable position to assist them in this roll.

How to Fix Your Novopay Problem , some advice…

There seems to be a reoccurring theme with Novopay and the Media when an Education worker gets named on or identified in media they suddenly become a priority to correct and Leanne Gibson the manager of this group denies knowledge but promises action.

The Ministry should have set up an Email hotline for disgruntled and underpaid Teachers so that they had an accurate picture of the nature and scope of the problem and a clear record of every suffering through their incompetence.

Let’s do that now. You can email details of the error in your payment to Leanne Gibson at  This would be a huge assistance to the Novopay team who will be able to quickly fix the issues you have using their in house payroll experts.  It would also relieve her of having to constantly deny knowledge of the numbers  in the media and free her up to give more detailed and relevant information.

It would pay to copy your email to Craig Foss he is the Associate Minister in charge of Novopay changeover (he’s been really quiet) and just to make sure you don’t get lost in a crack it would also be helpful to advise the government’s de-facto spokesman on education John Key .  Surely with this group of high powered fixers on the job we will see rapid resolution but just to be sure copy it to your local MP and your union too.

Novopay  should also be publishing on their web page a detailed list of known problems so that all teachers would know what they needed to check on their payslips. Clearly from the varying figures given out through this saga by the Ministry and the Minister they have not been able to identify all the affected staff. 

The Ministry and  the Minister Hekia Parata have worked overtime on their spin and to minimise  public knowledge of the sckope and scale of this failure.  To the extent that teachers have lost trust, it’s time for some honesty.   In fact the all the Novopay utterances so far seem identical the south end product of a north bound bull.

Cut and paste this link  And Email it to other teachers and payroll administrators.

Novopay makes Illegal Deductions from Education Workers’ Wages.

Novopay have without notice recovered in full the emergency payments made to staff that missed out in the first Novopay round.  This in at least one instance has been done without the required notice or consent detailed in the “Wages Protection Act 1983” . The Ministry’s complete inability to communicate with its victims is astounding. As is the complete in ability to provide honest and timely answers to the questions they are asked.  It’s time for Leanne Gibson to fall on her sword and make room for a more professional and competent leader.  Her continued involvement  should bring the Secretary of Educations position into question. Now is the time to be talking compensation.

  Is the Ministry of Education above the Law? it seems they Believe so. The act is very clear

6 Employer may recover overpayments in certain circumstances

  • (1) In this section,—

next pay day, in relation to any overpayment, means the day next following the day on which that overpayment was made upon which the worker to whom it was made would, in the normal course of events, be paid

overpayment means any wages paid to a worker in respect of a recoverable period

recoverable period, in respect of any employer and any worker, means a period in respect of which that employer is not required by law to pay any wages to that worker, by virtue of that worker’s having—

  • (a) been absent from work without that employer’s authority; or
  • (b) been on strike (within the meaning of section 81 of the Employment Relations Act 2000); or
  • (c) been locked out (within the meaning of that subsection); or
  • (d) been suspended.

(2) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any collective agreement within the meaning of the Employment Relations Act 2000 but subject to subsection (3), an employer who has made an overpayment to any worker may recover the amount of that overpayment from any wages to the payment of which by that employer that worker subsequently becomes entitled.

(3) No employer shall recover an overpayment under subsection (2) unless—

  • (a) by virtue of the methods or equipment normally used by that employer in arranging the payment of, or paying, wages to the worker concerned, it was not reasonably practicable for that employer to avoid making that overpayment; and
  • (b) before recovering that overpayment, that employer gives that worker notice of that employer’s intention to recover it; and
  • (c) that notice is given—
    • (i) not later than 10 days after the next pay day, in the case of a worker who has no fixed workplace:
    • (ii) not later than the first day upon which that worker attends that worker’s workplace after the next pay day during normal working hours, in the case of a worker with one fixed workplace who did not attend that workplace during normal working hours on the next pay day:
    • (iii) not later than the first day upon which that worker attends one of that worker’s workplaces after the next pay day during normal working hours, in the case of a worker with 2 or more fixed workplaces who did not attend any of them during normal working hours on the next pay day:
    • (iv) not later than the next pay day, in every other case; and
    • (d) that overpayment is recovered not later than 2 months after that notice is given.

(4) The validity of a notice purportedly given under subsection (3)(b) shall not be affected by the fact that—

  • (a) it does not specify the amount of the overpayment concerned but specifies only the day on which that overpayment was made and the actions that led to its being an overpayment:
  • (b) it is one of a number of identical notices given to a group of workers to only some of whom an overpayment has been made, and provides that it applies to the worker to whom it has been given only if an overpayment has been made to that worker



Novopay lumping non-taxable allowances into income and deducting TAX.

Non-taxable allowances such as Mileage Allowance have been added to Teachers taxable income and paid at lower than the lowest rate on the civil service scale. For Teachers wanting to check their payments the correct rates are

From the collective Agreement

5.4.1 Where a teacher is authorised to use his/her own vehicle on school business, he/she will be reimbursed at the appropriate Inland Revenue mileage rate.

From IRD.

Standard mileage rate for motor vehicles

The mileage rate for motor vehicles is 77 cents per kilometre

These Allowances are TAX free

How does 58KM get paid at $21.98 and taxed when it should have been paid at $44.66 and not taxed. A breach of the collective agreement I wonder if the PPTA knows and what they are doing about it?

It is difficult to imagine how The Ministry and Novopay will ever be able to correct all the tax and payment errors within the system and with each successive run of the payroll, these uncorrected errors are more deeply buried.  It would be a tragedy if the issues were left till the next Tax round and underpaid teachers expected to fund the government between now and June next year. Personally I’m wondering why the Dept. of Labour and IRD haven’t stepped into the fray. Surely there is an ACT or Regulation governing the accuracy of payroll and TAX records.

It might be easier to ask the Ministry what exactly they have got right, it would make for a much shorter story I’m sure.  In the ODT  today Leanne Gibson is quoted “ the Ministry would cover all costs such as penalties or missed interest payments incurred by staff because of a missing or incorrect pay”.  This should have an interesting follow up perhaps a headline like “Teachers forced to disclose confidential financial records to receive compensation”.

The arrogance of the ministry in the Novopay saga is astounding as is the secretive way problems are being dealt with. They have still not contacted the people who weren’t paid to even discuss compensation. Anyone’s income is a very personal thing IRD and statistics even call it personal income.  It’s time that the ministry realised this and dealt with the victims personally.  Now is the time to be talking compensation.   The victims are ready.

I would suggest the Ministry of Education’s payroll provider should be considering a name change from Talent2 to Talentless1 and any other organisation thinking of contracting their services should think again. I attempted to phone the senior management at Talent2 and was told by their telephonist that she was not allowed to transfer calls through.  I left my details but the call hasn’t been returned after 8 days.

Novopay the largest botched IT implementation in New Zealand’s history just keeps on giving or not!

Leanne Gibson the manager of the Ministry’s Novopay project and chair of the Governance Board has shown  that she both lacks the necessary skills and the integrity for a project of this scale.  She has willingly spoken on national TV and deceived us all with vague and certainly no one in the education sector could have any faith in the ability of the Novopay Governance Board to solve in a timely manner the errors that still exist .  If John Banks were a Classroom teacher he would have been sacked long ago.  Perhaps the ethical standards of the National Party in government and the need for honest disclosure have been approved for use within the Ministry of Education towards teachers. But more and more it’s looking like the governments slash and burn policies on education will not leave many unscathed outside the Ministry.  And in fact the government really has no policy that they can’t blame teachers or schools for, if it fails whatever it is.

Novopay is likely to continue to haunt teachers well into the future specifically those that were not employed at the time of the conversion and whose MOE histories have been lost along with their MOE Numbers and income YTD figures.  Where a new MOE number has been allocated these teachers are likely to find that when they do find a new permanent or fixed term position that their first few pays (if they get them) will be a huge disappointment.  As they run into the new “Salary Assessment Unit” which will pay them at the minimum rate till they are able to prove their qualifications and entitlement.  It will of course back pay them at some stage for any money found due.  But it raises a real question here Teachers are made to pay for their registration and classroom certificates Police vetting etc. Now this new level exists not at the request of their employer the BOT’s but at the insistence of their “Clayton’s” employer the Ministry of Education.  Some teachers with years of experience could find themselves out of pocket by $1000’s of dollars while this unit deliberate on the correct salary. That both the employer and the teacher will have known from day one.  I think it’s time somebody told the government that teachers are not beneficiaries they are workers and deserve to be paid correctly and on time every time.  Novopay owes a very public explanation to all the teachers affect by these failures and not another demonstration of the Ministry’ willingness fudge figures and introduce spin. Teachers need to see some heads roll and some responsibility taken.

Education is filling up with secret societies the Novopay Governance Board the  Salary Assessment Unit and who knows yet how many more.  The secrecy smells of deceit if there’s nothing to hide why hide it.  Or maybe it was just extra money for the insiders and political hacks that thought it would be easy.

I have contacted the Ministry in an attempt to find out who the people on the Novopay Governance Board are, what skills or experience they bought to the project and what they are paid for their contribution I am still waiting for a reply after a week. Although I was told by a spokesperson for the Ministry that they were treating it as an “official information request”.  So I’ll just keep waiting, timely is not an approved word in the Novopay dictionary.

Mediocrity and incompetence seem to be acceptable standards internally in the Ministry of Education.  If any teacher had failed students the way the Novopay Governance Board have failed teachers they would have been looking for a new career.

Novopay and the Christchurch fiasco should be enough to see the Minister Hekia Parata questioning all the advice she receives from the Ministry of Education and looking very closely at the culture and structure  of the organisation. It’s  time for change.

Novopay gets it wrong again PAYE calculations for teachers who missed out last run wrong.

Adding insult to injury seems to be the talent of the Novopay project.  Teachers who missed pays and payslips last round should take a very close look at their PAYE deductions. The hours may be correct this time but the TAX has been calculated as though the earnings were for 2 weeks not 4 as it should have been this will mean and underpayment for the victims of the last round.  The payslip I checked was $63.30 short. I have to ask if the Novopay team know how to run even a small payroll? this is very basic stuff.

Most if not all of the Teachers Paid – What now of Compensation?

Most if not all of the teachers that missed payment last Novopay round have now been paid although whether in full or nor remains a question as there are no payslips amongst the group I have been dealing with. Some have been paid out of the accounts of the schools they were working for but paid none the less.  Novopay is still not completely up to date.

It would appear that the bulk of teachers not paid were relief teachers or casual school staff many of the relief teachers found that their Ministry of Education (MinEdu) numbers had been lost and new identities had to be created.  The responsibility for this can only rest with the Novopay implementation and the Novopay Board of Governance. Schools had the details but were unable to process them despite having advised the Novopay support desk up to two weeks prior to the payroll payment date. The ministry now claims only 19 teachers in total did not receive any payment. While I personally find this hard to believe, perhaps it is true and the answer is in the way I have been asking the question perhaps I should have asked how many teachers and ancillary staff expecting payment had missed out.

A payroll system of this size is a critical system and should have undergone rigorous testing prior to its implementation.  One can only imagine that the ministry staff involved are paid under another payroll programme or I’m sure greater attention would have been paid to the detail.

It’s coming up to the second pay round under Novopay and one would hope that this one will be completely free of system errors.  But this raises the question of compensation for those that missed out.  No person should have to disclose their personal financial situation to prove injury for a payment they were contractually entitled to.

I suggest to the MinEdu that they make an additional payment to the affected staff equal to the payment that was missed. This would make the payments directly proportional to the missed salary/wages of the individuals.  As there are only 19 people involved this should be relatively inexpensive and the money could be recovered from the bonus budget for Senior Management and IT Department within the Ministry.  They need to do something quickly or lose any good faith or trust they have left.

Many payments were not received till a week or more later and no effort has been made by the MinEdu to contact the people affected and discuss compensation. Over all it has been a period of denial and spin for the MinEdu. Hopefully we can expect more honesty in the future.

Ministry Admits to a Minimum of 5.5% Education Pays Wrong but problem much worse

Thousands of adjustments and special pay runs but still many are waiting. Failure at this level given the time the Ministry had to implement the changes with Novopay  is beyond belief.  Where was the acceptance testing and the parallel running of systems to ensure accuracy. Parallel running would have allowed schools more time to ensure the accuracy of reoccurring pays and highlighted the problems in advance. This is not being wise in hindsight it’s a normal prerequisite of such a large change and should have been part of the Ministry’s change management procedures.  Did anyone on the changeover team have the experience to implement such a large system change and why is it taking so long to get it all the payments sorted.

Any IT provider should target zero errors and zero down time. For the spokesperson on behalf of the Novopay Governance Board to say that the level of failure is within acceptable norms is extraordinary. A further claim that most of the errors were due to bank a/c number errors is fanciful as all the teachers I am aware of had been paid successfully previously.  All the errors I am aware of relate directly to Novopay and its implementation and should result in the sacking and replacement of this board and a close examination of the technical competence of the Ministry’s own IT people specifically those involved with the Novopay fiasco.

I cannot relate any of the information currently in the media to the reality I am becoming familiar with. There seems to be a deliberate attempt to downplay and understate the true numbers involved. Quotes the numbers as 5000 underpaid and 15 not paid at all.  The TV3 news item mentions 4 in one school and the radio NZ article today also states 15 not paid an inquiry at Associate Education Minister  Craig Foss’s office today got the same number 15 and when I put to the staff member  “ if the numbers are so low why haven’t they all been individually contacted?” I was assured they had been.  At this stage I advised her that none of the unpaid staff I was in contact with had been; there was genuine surprise.

Clearly the number unpaid is much higher than the number being claimed by the Ministry of Education. Between the Radio NZ and TV3 Articles, 8 staff in 2 schools are unpaid. Clearly the number 15 unpaid is a gross underestimation. If a bank were trying to operate on a tenth of error rate that has occurred here, they would be out of business before they got started. The Ministry of Education has a lot of trust to recover here and owes and open explanation to the staff affected. Not just meetings with the principals. Some teachers still remain unpaid and no compensation is being discussed when they are contacted.

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