New UBC payroll system brings small hiccups but quick fixes, TA union says

After UBC upgraded its human resources and payroll systems, the university’s TA union says there have been a few issues that were resolved with correct and on-time payments, despite pre-launch testing and approval.

UBC replaced the decades-old systems with Workday in November as part of the $336-million Integrated Renewal Program software upgrade project.

During testing, UBC aimed for at least 90 per cent accuracy in payroll tests and found that data entry errors were the most significant reasons for pay discrepancies.

In planning phases of the project, a member of the UBC Board of Governors voiced concerns that this undertaking may evolve into a situation similar to that of the federal government’s Phoenix pay system fiasco.

Gillian Glass, president of CUPE 2278 representing UBC TAs, markers and English instructors, said that the upgrade has been a “very smooth transition” and that the union appreciates the university’s prompt and respectful responses when issues did pop up.

According to Glass, most of these issues took place at the beginning of the term in January when teaching assistant contracts started. Nonetheless, the union was largely unaffected because its members did not use Workday to input their hours. The few issues that did crop up were largely due to paperwork mishaps, which were easily resolved.

She added that the time it took for UBC to iron out payroll issues was understandable given the pandemic.

“We can be understanding of the fact that this is not an ideal work world. We’re all stressed,” Glass said. “COVID has definitely [fried] everybody’s nerves and the fact that people in payroll had to figure out a new system and solve our problems simultaneously was totally understandable from our perspective.”

In an email, Associate Vice-President of UBC finance & operational excellence Elana Mignosa wrote that there are no widespread issues with Workday payroll.

“While we are not aware of any systemic payroll issues, we have been made aware of a number of specific payroll issues that are being investigated and addressed directly,” she said. Mignosa encouraged anyone concerned with payroll issues to report it to the Integrated Service Centre.

Though the transition to Workday has only been a small issue for the union, Glass recognizes this may not be the case for everyone.

“The transition to a new system is always stressful,” Glass said. “It always comes with little bugaboos, little hiccups.”