Employers who evade or delay compulsory superannuation contributions are costing Australian workers almost $2.5 billion a year, according to new research commissioned by the country’s three largest industry funds.
A study by research house Tria Partners found that around 650,000 workers are being short-changed on statutory contributions by employers.
The average lost super for these workers is estimated at a whopping $3750 a year.
Pauline Vamos, the head of the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australian (ASFA), said the research showed why more people should be engaged with their super.
“By law your employer is required to pay 9.5 per cent of your salary into your superannuation account, and at least quarterly,’’ she said.
“The deadline for the next quarterly payment is October 28, so if you have any doubts about whether or not your super is being paid correctly, contact your fund in early November, who will be able to let you know the timing and amount of your recent super payments.”
The study found that employees in the construction and building industry were among the most likely to be short-changed.
Cbus chief David Atkin said the research showed that more needed to be done to protect employees in the construction industry.
“At present, too many employees are unaware of non-payment, and those who do complain to the Australian Tax Office usually do so too long after the event,” he said.
“That’s why, in the construction and building industry, Cbus contracts with employers to pay their employees’ superannuation monthly.”
Ms Vamos called on policymakers to improve information sharing between superannuation funds and the Tax Office so that unpaid super could be identified more easily by regulators.
Checklist: What do I do if my employer is short-changing me on super contributions?
1. Remember: Under Australian law, workers aged 18 and over are entitled to super contributions from their employer if they earn at least $450 in pre-tax income a month. This means that many casual and part-time workers are eligible for employer-funded super payments.
2. Talk to your employer: Ask them how often they make contributions to your super account.
3. Paying you: Find out the amount (in dollars) they are paying into your account each week, month or quarter.
4. Statement: Check your latest superannuation statement to see whether employer contributions are actually going into your account.
5. Contributions: Employers are required to contribute 9.5 per cent of your gross wages or salary into your super account. For example, if you earn $40,000 a year your employer should be making super contributions of $3800 (9.5 per cent).
6. Calculate: You can use an online calculator at the Australian Tax Office website to help work out your entitlement. Most super funds also have online calculators at their websites.
7. Underpaid: If you believe you are being underpaid and your employer is not responding to your concerns you can submit an online query with the Tax Office. The ATO will investigate whether your employer has a superannuation debt.
8. Research: Find more information on the ATO’s service here.
9. Information: For general information on compulsory superannuation you can visit the Super Guru website at superguru.com.au