The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has started paying back staff who were short-changed on their holiday pay over several years.
The underpayments, which date back to a 2004 change to the Holidays Act, came to light in 2016.
The ministry, which is responsible for enforcing labour laws, paid $1.9 million in November to current staff left out-of-pocket.
Staff were originally told to expect their money by the end of last year but then the target was moved to early this year.
MBIE chief financial officer Stewart McRobie said the ministry expected to be able to pay back former staff early next year "once we've sourced and validated the required personal details from individuals".
"We are still finalising calculations for former employees so cannot provide a total at this stage; however, we anticipate the total will be well below the $11.989m provision."
Affected current staff include MBIE, WorkSafe and those Ministry of Housing and Urban Development people paid through MBIE's payroll system.
MBIE is just one of many large organisations facing a big bill for historic payroll problems.