How Many Idiots Does It Take . . . ?

Wednesday 26 August 2015

In all the years that I’ve worked in education, there hasn’t been an appointment to a job that I’ve had where I haven’t had an issue at some point with pay. And this appointment to fill a position for five weeks has brought an alarming pay issue with it. It’s maybe not a story that will float the boat of everyone I know, but it’s a shocking story that seems to open the eyes to the ineptitude of payroll departments to those who hear it.

I’m filling in for five weeks for a teacher who has gone on substantiative leave. It’s a fixed-term contract position that required the school registrar set up a commencement for me. A lil background may be required here: earlier this year I was offered, and accepted, a redundancy from the department, had a period of restriction where I couldn’t work for any government department, and now I’m back to working relief. As it’s a large-ish block of work, commencement papers need to be lodged with the department so that they can start paying me. That all goes smoothly because the school I’m at has a great registrar who is totally on top of everything that she needs to do. Also going smoothly is the data entry for the work that I’ve done up to the commencement. Yep, that’s all going in to my bank account without any hassles. Cue the incompetence.

Now, because I’ve started doing relief, and a commencement has been lodged for the five week block, I get two pay slips: one is for the relief work, the second is for the five week block. So, I get into the system to check my pay slips, and . . . look, I don’t even know where to go with this other than to say it straight.

Someone in the department overpaid me.

By $39 311.07.

Yep, you read that correctly. Thirty nine thousand three hundred and eleven dollars and seven cents. Overpaid.

As is par for the course when I’ve had to deal with the department, it was me who alerted the registrar to this blatantly obvious overpayment, but being on the ball, she was already aware of it, and totally on to it. Turns out, the department figured out on Monday that I had been overpaid, and allegedly fixed the error. Allegedly. Because as of late today, my pay slip still shows the massive overpayment, and the school’s pay records also show the error. And it’s definitely not the first time that I’ve been overpaid by the department. Never as hugely overpaid as this one, but in varying amounts in the early thousands, yes.

This leads me to ask three simple yet powerful questions: 1) how often does the department overpay employees? 2) how much of that overpaid money actually gets reported, and recovered? and 3) how the f@#k does a mistake of this magnitude occur? Then a lil voice popped up in my head and asked: why the f@#k does this sh!t always happen to me?

Seriously, I can’t figure out how you mistakenly put $39 311.07 into someone’s account. Worse still, I can’t understand how you’d do that in multiple entries. I mean, if it had been allocated to someone as one single payment, I could maybe see my way to figuring out that perhaps someone pressed the wrong computer key. However, that massively overpaid amount is itemised across about six different entries on my pay slip. That’s not one mistaken keystroke, that’s six f@#king hits of a keyboard. How do you make that mistake?

On previous occasions, no one in payroll has even picked up that I had been overpaid, and if I’d been the sort of person who doesn’t stress about that sort of stuff, I wouldn’t have mentioned a word. I would have let them figure it out for themselves. But no, I stress about these things, and I contacted the department to let them know. On one occasion, the guy I spoke to told me not to worry, the department would get on to it when they got on to it. When I asked how long that would take, he told me he had no idea, and that it could be months, or the better part of a year. Really? You aren’t concerned with overpayments? That can’t be right considering you give only fourteen days for the money to be returned to the reimbursement and recouping debt sub-department of the payroll department.

So, I’ll go to the bank on payday, and hope to God that the department has actually fixed the situation, and paid me what I should be paid for working the hours that I’ve worked. But, knowing the department as I do, they’ll probably have taken back the $39 311.07, as well as the actual pay that I’m supposed to have deposited into my account. Because that’s how they work, or rather, don’t work. Expect another post in a couple of days where I rant about not having been paid what I should have been paid.

And to conclude, I guess you want to know the answer to the question in the title of this post: how many idiots does it take to f@#k up someone’s pay? I’m thinking it’s probably a whole department.

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About Danielle

I like to write. What more is there to know?
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