If you’re a female part-time worker in the retail, aged and childcare or the clerical sector, beware. You are far more likely than others to be in the group of 365,000 Australian workers missing out on superannuation payments because of the $450 monthly income threshold.
New research from the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) has found that 60.2 per cent, or 220,000, of those missing out on super payments were women.
Men hit by the threshold, which does not require employers to pay the 9.5 per cent super guarantee to those earning less than $450 a month from one employer, total 145,000, or 39.8 per cent, of the total.
ASFA’s figures show that of women not being paid super because of the threshold, 38.6 per cent work in the retail industry whereas for men 65.5 per cent work in retail. The aged and childcare industries accounted for 25.9 per cent of women and 17.9 per cent of men.
Research also shows that typical workers caught by the threshold might lose as much as $2000 over a five-year period of part-time work.
Sandra Buckley, executive officer of Women in Super, told The New Daily “we support getting rid of the $450 threshold”.
“It would be in the best interests of part-time workers, be they women, men or young people generally,” she said.
Glenn McCrea, policy officer with ASFA, said the threshold often hit people who worked in multiple jobs. “Often people work for a a number of different employers earning less than $450 a month from each. As a result they’re not getting super from anyone.”
Russell Zimmerman, executive director of the Australian Retailers Association, said it was unlikely the number of retail employees not earning super because of the threshold would be very high.
“The minimum retail shift, except for some school children, is three hours. If someone works three hours for $60 and $120 for a three-hour Sunday shift (at double time) then they would be earning $720 a month which is well above the threshold,” he said.
“Very few would work three hours because most employers say they need people to work for longer than that to be efficient.”
Ms Buckley added: “The threshold is often used as a way not to pay super. People are rostered to ensure they don’t meet the level.”
In sectors like childcare where centres operating under the one brand can be owned by a number of franchisees, people can work almost full-time and still fall under the threshold as each franchisee is deemed a separate employer, The New Daily has reported.
The threshold needs to be scrapped to cater for the interests of workers in the emerging gig economy, Mr McCrea said. “The workforce is changing with the growth of groups like Uber, Airtasker and Airbnb. We’ve got to ensure we’re keeping up with those changes.”
Mr Zimmerman took a different view, saying “the threshold was introduced with compulsory super back in the early 90s and it’s never been indexed”.
“If it was indexed it would be much higher than $450.”
ASFA said modern computerised payrolls mean making super payments for people working few hours is no longer a big burden on employers. Denying young workers the right to super in part-time jobs would be amplified through their working lives, Mr McCrea said.
“Every worker deserves to enjoy the winning benefits of compound interest on compulsory retirement savings through super. The threshold is just holding back long-term savings for low-paid people and depriving them of a better post-work life.”