Nova Scotia

VON nurses getting shorted on pay

A new national payroll system for the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) is issuing or missing staff payments and putting home payments in jeopardy for some nurses.

A new national payroll system for the Victorian Order of Nurses is missing staff payments and putting some nurses in financial jeopardy.

In Nova Scotia, hundreds of nurses and home support workers employed by VON have missed or received inaccurate paycheques, according to two healthcare unions.

"Since it was instituted in January, every single pay, there's been an issue. Sometimes it's no pay. Most often the pays are incorrect," said Janet Hazelton, president of the Nova Scotia Nurses Union.

She represents 611 registered and licensed practical nurses who work for the national non-profit homecare agency.

"It used to be, 'Thank God it's Friday'. Now, 'Oh my God it's Friday'. We dread Fridays because the calls will come in from nurses who have issues with the payroll," Hazelton said.

VON brought in the SAP software system on Jan. 1 as part of a nation-wide administrative overhaul.

VON said replacing dozens of separate accounting, human resources and clinical systems for its 5,400 employees and converting to SAP involved moving huge amounts of data  and re-tooling the software.

In an email to CBC News, VON's Janet MacLeod said they were working on it.

"Like any undertaking of this enormity, some challenges were expected and regrettably some did occur. VON has made every effort to address and minimize the impact of these challenges," she wrote.

Hazelton said VON has written cheques and paid nurses in cash or arranged direct deposits to cover some shortfalls.

But some Nova Scotia nurses found insufficient funds in bank accounts to pay mortgages and insurance payments.

Nurse quit over money owed

Susan MacKintosh, a nurse in Cole Harbour, quit VON after four months of frustration. She said she is owed $2,000.

"We would be short mileage or we wouldn't get the proper mileage rate. Also you'd be short regular hours. I never got my overtime at all," MacKintosh said.

"Its affected people's credit. Those stories are rampant," said Joan Jessome, president of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union.

She said the 575 VON home support workers she represents are increasingly frustrated.

"They said we're not working for nothing. We don't know if we're going to get paid. We don't know how much we're going to get paid. We don't know how much we're out," Jessome said.

SAP did not acknowledge any problems with the VON payroll in its response to inquiries from CBC News.

VON said an independent auditor will reconcile each employee's pay once the system is working, although it's not clear when that will be.

This Friday is another payday and VON staff are hoping it's right this time.