Computer sparks late pay

Nearly 1,900 people's wage packets were wrong or late in the first three months of a new payroll system at Norfolk County Council, it was revealed last night.

Nearly 1,900 people's wage packets were wrong or late in the first three months of a new payroll system at Norfolk County Council, it was revealed last night.

There have a been a host of problems since the £4.7m IHRIS system was launched, with some teaching staff left in serious financial straits as they waited for their earnings.

Last night, the system's manager said "sorry" to all those who had endured delays or adjustments to their pay.

But employee-services centre manager Debbie Beck added that the number of problems had more than halved from 876 in April to 402 in June.

Under the old system, there was an average of 300 "adjustment payments" per month because of mistakes, people arriving too late in a month to go on the pay run or where staff had not been informed of a person's change of hours or job.

She said: "Our new HR and payroll system will benefit the council and council tax payers, but we know and are sorry that there have been a few more problems than we hoped getting it in place.

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"In overall terms we are making progress. But we realise that while finance staff gain expertise in using the new system it will take longer to complete tasks and unfortunately this has impacted on our usual service standards.

"Confidence and competence in the system is growing all the time.

"In the meantime we are working very hard to return to business as usual."

Jonathan Dunning, Unison's county branch secretary, said he accepted the old system was "antiquated" and needed to be replaced.

And he said the new system included information that would make pay negotiations "much more meaningful and effective".

He added: "We are aware that there were some minor errors at the beginning, which caused some anger. But that was more about data input than the system itself.

"Our members were given assurances that the second pay run would be better, and that appears to be the case," he said.

Ms Beck said the April error rate was 2.5pc of the 41,584 individual payments made, while June's figure of 402 was 1pc.