Tauranga City Council staff are frustrated after being paid incorrectly for working recent public holidays.

A council employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told Local Democracy Reporting he had not been paid overtime or the extra pay owed for working a public holiday.

If an employee works a public holiday and it’s a typical workday for them, they are entitled to time-and-a-half and a day in lieu.

The council staff member worked the public holidays January 1 and 2 and said he was not the only one affected.

He knew of others who worked Christmas and Boxing Day as well and had not been paid their full entitlement either.

The man received an email from the council’s payroll department saying it was a company-wide issue.

It was a “considerable amount of money” that people were owed across the organisation, he said.

“People are obviously expecting the overtime to be paid, everybody’s frustrated.”

The man wasn’t given a reason for the pay issues but said he suspected it was caused by a new payroll system the council introduced a month ago.

“It’s a bit disappointing, we have all the talk of ‘we appreciate you working, but we don’t want to pay you’.”

He has called the human resources department but he believed staff weren’t answer their phones or didn’t want to talk to people about the issue.

“The communication is dreadful. We just get automated emails back, saying people are on holiday or an email back, saying that we’re looking into it, but no definite of we’ll be paid by this date.

“It’s a little bit frustrating, not just for me personally, but for the group that’s worked over the [holiday] period.”

He said he purchased something online that arrived but the money wasn’t in his account, so he had to take it from another source.

The staff member said they were paid fortnightly and if they were paid the money owed in the next pay cycle it would be a month between doing the work and being paid correctly.

Council general manager of corporate services Alastair McNeil confirmed 93 staff may not have received overtime, on-call allowances, or additional public holiday entitlements.

There were 30 people who were paid incorrectly for working the public holidays, he said.

It was caused by a technical issue with the new Human Resource Information System that was implemented in November, said McNeil.

“We quickly identified the cause and fixed the problem, so this does not reoccur. All affected employees and their people leaders were personally communicated with on Wednesday.”

Staff from the council’s customer services, spaces and places, venues and events, city waters and transportation departments worked the public holidays, McNeil confirmed.

“Staff across various council functions were working over the break to keep essential services running for the city.”

The council has 1250 employees.

Asked when the affected staff would be paid correctly, McNeil replied: “We are communicating directly with affected staff”.

LDR has sighted an email from a council payroll employee saying the “missed components” of pay would be paid in the next pay run.

Council staff were paid on Wednesday, so the next pay cycle would be in a fortnight, the anonymous council employee said.

McNeil did not respond directly to the employee’s concerns about communication or that human resources staff “ran and hid”.

By Alisha Evans, Local Democracy Reporter

LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air