28 May 2017

Govt sets aside $15m for teachers' holiday pay cheques

8:12 pm on 28 May 2017

The government has set aside $15 million to look into whether teachers have been underpaid their holiday pay.

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Photo: 123rf.com

In Budget 2017 the government allocated the money for what is described as the school payroll-Holidays Act project.

Minister of Education, Nikki Kaye, said a review commissioned last year showed the Holidays Act had been interpreted in a way that meant some school employees might not have received their correct pay.

She said the money would allow further work to ensure any inconsistencies were rectified.

Ms Kaye said it was not possible at this stage to say how many employees may be affected.

She said the issue was not unique to the education sector.

In 2016, the police paid close to $40m in outstanding pay after discovering errors in how holiday pay had been worked out.

The school payroll system has also had issues in the past, with a stream of problems starting in 2012 after the introduction of a new payroll provider, Novopay.

Investigations carried out by the Labour inspectorate last year revealed about 24,000 public and private sector workers had been underpaid due to breaches of the Holidays Act.

Support staff need pay increase - principals

Meanwhile, more than 500 school principals have signed an open letter saying they will be forced to cut teacher aide hours if the government doesn't provide support staff with a funded pay rise.

Support staff, including teacher aides and office administrators, are in the midst of pay negotiations with the Ministry of Education.

The president of the primary teachers union, the NZEI, said principals wanted support staff to get a pay rise, but it needed to come with specific funding.

Lynda Stewart said support staff were paid from a school's operational grant, and this year's Budget gave no additional funding to meet extra staffing costs.

However, the Nikki Kaye said funding for education had increased by about 41 percent to $11.6 billion since 2008.

Ms Kaye said operational grants had also increased significantly in that time.

The Board of Trustees had been resourced to be able to support pay increases, she said.

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