School payroll: on time, every time

Issue: Volume 100, Number 2

Posted: 25 February 2021
Reference #: 1HAHJ9

Delivering the largest payroll in New Zealand accurately and on time each payday is a complicated and ever-changing task, with school administrators, principals, the Ministry of Education and Education Payroll Limited (EPL) working together to get it right.

Making the school payroll simpler, easier to use and more accurate is the focus at Education Payroll (EPL), a small company that uses cutting edge technology. 

Each year EPL is responsible for paying approximately 94,000 teachers and support staff in around 2,500 schools every fortnight. That’s approximately $214 million per pay period and $5.6 billion per annum.

Step-change in schools’ pay process

Chief Executive Arlene White says EPL’s new online payroll system EdPay is a step-change in the way schools’ pay is processed, moving from the old, forms-based Novopay to a faster and more accurate online system.

“Last year we celebrated one year of EdPay in schools and retired the first of the old NOVO forms, which were lengthy and complicated. In the future, EdPay will replace Novopay entirely,” she says.

“It’s the combination of people and technology that’s the key to making everything work. We design everything with schools for schools, with the aim of making a complex system simpler, quicker and more accurate wherever we can,” says Arlene.

Schools have jumped on board, with strong and positive feedback. EdPay’s Add New Employee feature, for example, resulted in around 95 percent accuracy first time, compared with 75 percent using forms.

New features

EPL is progressively adding new features to EdPay to ensure it’s easy to use and reflects the advice of school administrators, business managers and principals.

Every new feature starts with a design phase in which EPL’s customer experience team tours schools, demonstrating on-screen mock-ups and collecting feedback. Once a design has been settled on, it’s provided to the in-house build teams, who write and test the code then send it to 200 test schools who try it out in real life. Adjustments are made based on their feedback before the feature gets rolled out to all schools.

“We relentlessly focus on making the system simpler and reducing effort for schools, improving accuracy and reducing risk. It takes a highly skilled technical team working hard behind the scenes and a group of super-users in schools all working together to make that happen,” says Arlene.

There’s also a dedicated team of payroll advisors who are on hand to provide expert help and support to school administrators and principals.

More than just payroll

The company doesn’t just deliver schools’ payroll. EPL staff also assess teachers’ qualifications and experience to set correct salaries, process and administer ACC claims, manage overpayments, and administer third party payments, such as ACC, KiwiSaver and student loans.

EPL also implements collective agreement and corresponding individual agreement changes for teachers and support staff, which often includes the merging of existing grade steps, and complex calculations. Implementing last year’s Teacher Aide Pay Equity Claim, for example, covered 20,160 employees (with 21,933 jobs), and those employees needed 40,485 individual changes to funding and rostered hours. Around 23,036 allowance records were adjusted or created as part of this change.

“This year we’ll focus on improving our EdPay features and service, retiring remaining NOVO forms, decommissioning Novopay, and updating some of our technologies, but our number one priority will always be ensuring the fortnightly pay is on time and accurate,” says Arlene.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 9:19 am, 25 February 2021

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