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Research lack of superannuation Australian women
[Source: ANZ Womens Report from 2015 titled Barriers to Achieving Financial Gender Equity]

Here’s a sobering statistic for you – one in 5 Australian women yet to retire has NO superannuation!

When I first read this statistic, I must admit my first thought was ‘Our compulsory super system was introduced nearly 30 years ago. How can it be possible for 20% of Australian working age women to have no superannuation? So I went looking for some answers.

There’s quite a few possible reasons, but today I’m going to talk about three. The last one is the one I really want you to focus on because it’s something you can actively help to change.

  • For most people, the first reason that probably comes to mind is that perhaps these women have never been in paid employment. And therefore have never been entitled to retirement savings paid by an employer. This is probably a factor for some women, whose primary role is family care whether by choice, or for social, cultural or other reasons.

However, to me, this didn’t seem enough of a reason for such a huge proportion of women to have missed out entirely on superannuation. Remember, it’s one in 5 who have nil retirement savings in super.

  • The more likely reason is that they are being ripped off by dodgy employers who are illegally avoiding paying their employees superannuation.

What?

Really?

Unfortunately this is more common than most people think. An ABC News report in December 2016 stated that about a third of Australian workers are being ripped off by rogue employers who are holding back some or all of their superannuation entitlements. This was based on research by Industry Super Australia and Cbus who found employers dodging superannuation payments are pocketing $3.6 billion per year from 2.4 million workers.

If you think this might affect you or a client you are supporting, here’s a link to a page on the Australian Tax Office website with details of how to check if your employer is paying you super and a number for you to ring if you want the ATO to investigate.

Unfortunately as individuals, the issue of rogue employers is a hard one to influence. But the last reason women are missing out on super is the one I said I want you to pay attention to. Because it’s due to a law. One that all those who care about financial empowerment for women should be lobbying to have changed.

  • You see, many working women simply are not entitled to the superannuation guarantee payment because they fall under the $450/month earnings threshold.

I first heard about this issue from HESTA super fund who is actively advocating for the government to change this rule because of its negative impact on women. HESTA has more than 800,000 members of its superannuation fund – mostly women who work in health and community services – and the average member super balance is less than $20,000.

Think about that for a minute – these women aren’t part of the 20% who have no super, because they are members of a super fund. But they still have almost no superannuation savings.

And why?

In part, HESTA attributes this to the fact that women can often work in more than one part-time or casual role with the result that their salary from each employer can fall under the $450 per month Superannuation Guarantee threshold. As a result they are not able to participate in super at all.
You can help change this law by lobbying your local member of parliament. Why not forward them this video or tag them in your comment???

You’ll be joining a growing number of people actively campaigning on this issue, including the superannuation industry and the Small Business Ombudsman. For a few related articles with more information, see the blog notes below.

So, what’s your opinion? Do you believe women should be entitled to super from their employer even if they earn less than $450/month?

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