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Key points:

In the space of just two years (since previous analysis of 2013-14 ATO data):

  • The number of workers short-changed super has climbed by 220,000 (up from 2.76 million) and now affects over one in three workers.
  • The amount of unpaid employer super contributions has climbed by $300 million per year (up from $5.6 billion).

For the one in three workers eligible for Super Guarantee (SG), the average underpayment stood at $1,994 or the equivalent of $77 per fortnightly pay.

Further detailed investigation of risk factors suggests rogue employers are exploiting younger workers, those in part-time and casual work and blue-collar jobs.

  • Workers under the age of 30 are a third more likely to miss out on their legal entitlement compared to older workers;
  • Over 45% of labourers, machinery operators and drivers have collectively missed out on more than $820 million making it to their super accounts;
  • Part-time and casual workers earning less than $30,000 are a third more likely to miss out on super compared to full-time workers and those on higher salaries.
  • Combining these risk factors reveals 75 percent of Australians short-changed their super contributions are aged under 35, earn under $30,000 or are in blue collar jobs.

It is apparent that some employers are taking advantage of outdated super laws coupled with lower skilled and new workforce entrants who are less likely to know their entitlements or ask questions.

On top of this, the rise of insecure employment is amplifying the already widespread problem of unpaid super.

Despite new laws before the Parliament that should improve reporting of super, employers are still under no obligation to pay super contributions at the time they are disclosed on payslips.

The number one policy to fix unpaid super is to require employers to pay super at the same time as wages and salary, rather than allow the money to be used for other purposes for up to four months.

Most employers do the right thing and many employers already pay super fortnightly or monthly, but the time has come to make regular payment of super mandatory.

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