Support staff annualisation - what's the story?
Support staff are only paid for the weeks they spend at work, but they can choose to have their pay distributed over the year -- this is called annualisation.
In most years there are 26 fortnightly pay days. But in October 2015 the Ministry of Education identified a once-in-an-eleven year issue -- that in 2016 there would be 27 paydays, rather than 26, based on the payroll cycle used in Novopay. The Ministry of Education decided unilaterally to pay staff over 27 fortnights, rather than 26 fortnights, thus reducing annualised staff pay by 3.7% each fortnight. Their rationale was that this would "build up" pay to cover the final fortnight.
However, affected NZEI members told us they were unhappy with their fortnightly pay being reduced. Our interpretation of the collective agreement is that these members should have been paid a year's pay over 26 fortnights instead of 27.
We took the Ministry to court to help resolve the dispute. The Employment Authority and the Employment Court both ruled that NZEI correctly interpreted the support staff collective agreement.
But in August of 2016 the Ministry decided by themselves to 'fix' the problem they created by the court rulings by treating NZEI members and non-members differently. Non-members would continue to be paid 3.7% less and be paid in the final fortnight. NZEI members would have the 3.7% 'backpaid' and would get no pay in the final fortnight. Support staff were only given a week by Novopay to decide whether or not to stay with NZEI. NZEI appealed the Ministry's decision to not pay support staff in pay period 22 (1 February 2017).
In November 2016 the Court ruled in favour of the Ministry. NZEI is currently waiting on legal advice about an appeal or other legal options.
What does this mean for you as an annualised support staff member?
As the Ministry's position is that the back pay you have received is not "extra" money, you will not be paid for the last fortnight in January (18 January 2017 to 31 January 2017). We recommend setting aside the back pay to cover your usual financial obligations in this fortnight.
Whether or not you are a member of NZEI, annualised staff should receive the same amount of income for the whole year regardless of how it is paid out.
The backpay has been called 'future unpaid holiday' on support staff payslips. The missed pay is pay period 22 (1 Feb 2017) for the fortnight 18 January-31 January.
The Inland Revenue Department has changed how lump sum payments such as back pay are taxed starting from April 2016. You need to contact the IRD for further explanation of how this might affect you. This matter is outside the control of NZEI and we are not qualified to give advice on this. The change should not generally disadvantage you overall.
The annualisation agreement you signed in 2015 covers the whole year from 20 Jan 2016 to 31 Jan 2017. The Ministry's position is that you will have been paid for this whole time, even if you receive no income during the last two weeks of it. You cannot claim additional hours for working your normal hours during this period.
What can you do?
Get in touch if you need help
You should contact us if:
- the back pay severely impacted on your entitlement to benefits from WINZ or the IRD
- if you will experience unusual financial hardship during the final fortnight
to see if we have any suggestions.
The number to call on is 0800 693 443.
Support our claim for a fair annualisation system
You can support your negotiations team, who are about to start collective bargaining negotiations on December 12-13th. Our draft claim includes a demand for a fair annualisation system. The more there are of us represented in that bargaining, the stronger we’ll be, so now’s a great time to encourage any not-yet members to join.