Canadian uni blames users, ‘isolated technical problems’ as new Workday system fails to pay 700 temps on time

Montreal’s McGill University has left 150 temporary workers unpaid as it struggles to iron out technical problems and user training following the introduction of a new Workday HR and payroll system.

At one time the new cloud-based system, which went live in August 2020, left 700 workers facing delayed payments.

The Canadian university, which counts Star Trek actor William Shatner and late songster Leonard Cohen among its alumni, said the switch to Workday had been “successful”.

“There are no issues with McGill’s payroll system as a result of the transition to Workday,” a spokeswoman said in a statement.

However, the statement conceded that “in recent weeks, with the start of the new term, we have experienced difficulties with hiring and onboarding processes for some new employees. These issues have primarily affected sessional and casual appointments and have resulted in delayed pay for some.”

The teaching and research institution said it had hired 3,700 new teaching assistants, course lecturers and instructors, student research assistants, and casual employees since its Workday system went live.

“Approximately 150 of these new hires are still pending in Workday, with the result that pay and access to some university systems continue to be delayed. Resolution of these cases is the team’s highest priority,” the spokeswoman added.

An additional 700 of these new hires had experienced an initial delay in pay, which had been corrected, she admitted. “Investigation of the cases indicates that about half of them are attributable to isolated technical problems and/or to patterns of misunderstanding or repetition of certain errors by users. The remaining cases were due to the absence of critical information such as banking details necessary for direct deposit.”

Since it went live, the Workday system had managed pay runs for more than 12,000 McGill employees accurately, the university said.

Meanwhile, the firm distanced itself from any problems with the system. “This is not the result of issues with the Workday system. We are working closely with the customer and its deployment partner to offer our support in helping address the situation,” a Workday spokeswoman said.

According to representative body the Association of Graduate Students Employed at McGill, the payment delays are the result of “an apparent technical error by McGill”. Many newly employed and returning teaching assistants were not given an employee email when they started, making it difficult to access Workday. It also said there were issues carrying over passwords from email accounts of students who where set to become employees.

Workday replaced a Banner Human Resources Information System (HRIS) and Payroll One-Time Payment System (POPS) at McGill. These were “two outdated systems that currently present limitations in terms of duplication of information, approval workflows, reporting and the evolution with McGill’s processes over time,” the university said in an article headed “10 Reasons to be Excited About Workday at McGill!”

We can only assume that the inherent excitement involved with logging into a new HR and payroll system has been tarnished, at least for those still waiting to be paid. ®

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