Members have a range of issues from queries to known errors in their pay and back-pay. I met with relevant FENZ management late last week to get a picture of what was happening and timelines for resolution.
There are various reasons why there has been a delay in identifying and resolving issues – all are in the control of FENZ senior management.
- Primarily the FENZ payroll and SMS systems are at the root of the problem as they are longer fit for purpose and are limping along resulting in changes and calculations having to be done manually and on a case by case basis. Work is being undertaken on replacement systems but they will not be in place this year.
- Payroll has been hugely under-resourced for some time and in recent weeks staffing has been bolstered with new arrivals.
- The colliding of timing of changes resulting from the NZPFU collective and other collective agreements.
Payroll has received 567 email requests regarding backpay and matters resulting from the changes negotiated in the collective agreement. As of last week 333 had been resolved. Of the 234 outstanding the bulk of these (136) are requests for calculations (which have to be done manually) to support the backpay or wages received, another 49 had raised specific queries with their requests for calculations, a further 29 raised queries only, 9 were questioning the calculations received and there was 1 superannuation query.
Payroll is now working to a plan which they hope will see these matters resolved within the next 6-8 weeks. Each query requires manual calculations and communications with the member concerned.
Other implications of the increases backdated have been identified and in many cases resolved and paid, or are underway:
- Accurate application and payment of HDA
- Recalculation and payment of PCA top up on PCA payments made during the backdating period
- Re-assessment of annual leave payments paid during the backdating period
- Calculations for those that were on leave without pay during the backdating period
- Superannuation allowances (not Fire Super)
- Trainers availability allowances (an incorrect formula was applied to some)
- Reconciliation for those that changed unions and therefore contractual entitlements
The failure to update SMS on QSL and parental leave changes has also been a frustration. There are systems issues with SMS and it is not a matter of just inputting a change. We have repeatedly requested this gets priority as it only creates ongoing backdating issues. Payroll is having to assess and calculate the changes where leave has been taken to determine whether QSL applied and to make the appropriate payments. This has to be done manually on each case individually.
Understandably NZPFU members are frustrated and want the matters resolved. It is FENZ’s failure to replace the failing systems and to be properly resourced that is at the heart of the delays – not the efforts of those that work in payroll.
We ask members to refrain from repeated emails on the same issue to payroll as that just requires further administrative work when the time is better spent on resolving the issues.
We remind members that the staff in payroll are working hard and long hours to get the problems fixed and request that any communications are mindful of that situation.
Income Protection reimbursement
NZPFU members covered by the 2021-2024 collective employment agreement are able to claim up to $2600 reimbursement allowance for any life and/or income protection policy they had at any point during the period 1 July 2022-30 June 2023.
- The NZPFU has provided FENZ with the list of relevant members covered by the NZPFU life insurance (known as the NZPFU compensation insurance https://www.nzpfu.org.nz/resources/). Relevant members have been paying their premiums through a wage deduction. They should be receiving the reimbursement shortly.
- All other members covered by the collective agreement who have other life and/or income protection insurance, or insurance that includes life and/or income protection cover, must provide a copy of the policy and evidence of payment of the premiums for the relevant period to Nichola.Oakenfull@fireandemergency.nz. Previously we have advised members to send the life/income protection reimbursement documentation to payroll. Due to the demands on payroll members who are yet to make a claim are asked to send it directly to Nichola. Please remember to be respectful in communications and requests.
For those yet to sign up to the NZPFU Protect Income Protection Scheme all relevant information can be found via https://www.nzpfu.org.nz/resources/. The forms ask for the name of the bank account – that is the bank account holder – it is not the name you may have assigned a particular account. NZPFU administrator Bonnie has been working behind the scenes including ensuring your banks load the direct debit forms for the weekly $50 payment from your bank account. Members are reminded to ensure they have sufficient funds for the direct debit as cover is dependent on premiums being received. The Firefighters’ Credit Union does not provide a direct debit service so members wanting to use that bank will have to organise their own automatic payment. We again ask that members are respectful in their communications and requests on these issues.
We assure members that we have not had any indication from FENZ that they will not honour the agreement to reimburse for life/income protection insurance for the 2022-2023 year, or that they will not honor that agreement for reimbursement of the NZPFU Protect Income Protection Insurance policy for the 2023-2024 period. In fact, we have been working with relevant FENZ personnel behind the scenes to try and streamline the reimbursement and claims processes to prevent any issues with next year’s reimbursement.
The NZPFU membership have asked for income protection insurance for many years. It was hard-won in the last negotiations and of course the NZPFU will protect the annual $2600 reimbursement payment fiercely. Administratively it makes sense for FENZ to pay the premiums direct and we hope that efficiency is achieved through negotiations.
The NZPFU sadly announces that Jonathan Ring has resigned from his position as Industrial Officer. We wish him well for his future endeavours. Jonathan wishes to “thank the members for their solidarity and for the opportunity to work for this amazing union”.
The National Committee of Management has a planned meeting next week and will include discussions on the timing and scope of the role to be advertised.