INTERIM EMERGENCY PAYMENTS – FINER DETAIL FOR TEACHERS
You will have seen the communication that issued jointly from the Department of Education and the Education Authority to schools regarding the issues experienced in respect of the implementation of the new NISTR system and the timely payment of temporary teachers. As noted, in the current exceptional circumstances, particularly in light of the cost-of-living crisis, the Minister has asked the EA to process interim emergency payments to all of the individual teachers impacted. The purpose of this communication is to provide some further detail on those affected, explain the reasons for the issues and set out the arrangements to resolve.
Cohort of Teachers Impacted
Whilst issues with inaccurate salaries will not impact on all teachers, there are several reasons why a teacher may not have received all or some of the salary owed for engagements undertaken in schools and other educational settings.
- Administrative Errors
An administrative error was made during the extraction and supply of data from the NISTR booking system to the payroll file, which impacted approximately 280 supply teaching bookings. In addition, the payroll system did not process salary for a small number of bookings that had been supplied by NISTR. This is being urgently investigated.
Interim emergency payment for all teachers impacted by administrative errors outlined above have been processed to reach accounts by 25 October 2022. The only exception is where bank details are not known/held. Where this is the case, the individual teachers have been contacted directly to request return of a TR25 form to enable interim payments to be processed.
- School Level Approval
Teachers that do not have a ‘live’ status cannot be booked on NISTR and therefore will not have any approved (signed off) bookings in the system.
At the deadline of each payroll period (third working day of new month) a file containing all NISTR ‘signed off’ bookings is supplied to payroll for processing. Bookings with outstanding employer approval for payment will consequently be excluded from the NISTR booking file and will not be supplied to payroll.
These issues are not new and not linked to the new system. Under normal circumstances no payment would be made until the following payroll and only when the relevant employer approvals are in place. Moving forward it is essential that all schools ensure bookings are inputted in advance of engagement (and no later than 11.59pm on the first day of engagement) and that all bookings for the month ending are signed-off prior to the payroll deadline to ensure that supply teachers are paid the correct salary owed within the correct month.
However, taking account of the current cost of living crisis and the issues with the new NISTR system, the Minister has provided an instruction to make interim payments for this service also.
We are currently undertaking an exercise to:
- Identify bookings for August and September days that have been signed-off since the payroll deadline to enable interim payments to be processed immediately.
- Identify bookings for August and September days that have yet to be signed-off and contact the school to seek urgent action.
- Review retrospective booking requests received from schools for non-live teachers for August and September days and contact schools to confirm attendance.
Once gathered, this information will be used to facilitate an interim, emergency payment to all teachers above.
- Bookings in Hours/Minutes
As part of the sign off process, a school user can input into an ‘hours/minutes’ field, which is to be used in circumstances where a booking did not equate to a half a day or full day. In some cases, schools have completed this field unnecessarily, resulting in the full booking being overwritten. This has resulted in some teachers being underpaid, in comparison to the time worked.
We are currently working to improve this sign off process to prevent future errors. An exercise is in progress to contact all schools with bookings in hours / minutes to check the period of the engagement. Where there is found to be a difference in actual service and the service inputted at booking sign-off; an interim payment will be processed.
- Potential Overpayments due to Overlapping Booking Dates
The file transferred to payroll contains only the span of the booking (start and end date) and the total number of days/hours/minutes relevant to that booking. Where the file contained bookings for one teacher with overlapping dates, it was not possible to decipher if there was duplicate service recorded.
Where there was doubt, to ensure teachers were not financially disadvantaged and make timely payment, the higher amount was paid. This approach may have resulted in a small number of overpayments. If the units of days/hours on your payslip is unexpectedly high, please note you may have been affected. The service of teachers potentially impacted is being reviewed. This exercise will be completed by 28 October and if impacted, you will be contacted directly.
Nature of Interim Payment and Recoupment
The interim payments are being processed on the following basis:
- In consultation with school employers, we will establish actual service worked versus payment received.
- Estimates of gross salary owed will be calculated as follows:-
- Unpaid service x daily/hourly rate (based on the individual teachers’ personal pay point). Please note that it has not been possible to include for allowances within the interim payments (e.g. a teaching allowance or SEN allowance associated with the engagement) in order to expedite the emergency payment process.
- A blanket 40% deduction will be applied to create the net payment amount – this is an estimated amount to cover variable statutory deductions such as Income Tax and National Insurance Contributions and voluntary/other deductions such as pension contributions and student loans. It is not possible for precise calculations for deductions to be made for everyone within the timescales involved.
- When the signed-off bookings or adjusted service are included in the NISTR file to payroll, the relevant and individually calculated outstanding salary (including allowances) with relevant deductions will be processed through the payroll system and the amount of the interim payment will be deducted from the net salary owed. The opposite will apply to overpayments in that the next salary payment will be adjusted to account for any surplus salary paid.
Once adjustments have been made, all teachers will be in receipt of the exact and correct amount they are owed for the hours they have worked.
Timing and Next Steps
The Department and the Education Authority acknowledge the anxieties and pressures on teachers impacted. Please be reassured that all staff in the Department’s Temporary Teachers’ Pay Team and the EA’s NISTR Project Team and Finance Team are working intensively to obtain the information to make interim payments to all teachers who did not receive salary for any reason including late sign offs and un-live status in the current circumstances.
As noted, interim payments to those impacted by administrative errors have already been processed to reach accounts by 25 October. The remainder of teachers with unpaid service will receive an interim payment as soon as feasibly possible when outstanding information, which is being gathered as a matter of urgency, is collated. We appreciate your ongoing patience during this time.
The NISTR Project Team will continue to work with the system supplier Version 1, to develop new features and enhance current functionality within the NISTR system, based on the planned implementation programme and through actively listening to user feedback.