Superannuation can be a complicated beast for young and older workers who are employed in casual or part-time jobs.
And the superannuation rules are by no means clear on the entitlements of members of the casual workforce.
In many cases you might have to do some digging to establish that you have a right to get super contributions.
For young people in casual jobs in the retail and hospitality industries, the general rule of thumb is that if you earn more than $450 in a calendar month then your employer is required to make contributions to your super account.
This principle applies to casual workers in most other industries, as well.
However, there are many exceptions to this general rule.
If you’re aged below 18 and not working more than 30 hours a week your employer is not required to make any superannuation contributions, regardless of whether you earn more than $450 a month.
Why people younger than 18 are denied super is a bit of mystery, but that’s the lay of the local superannuation landscape at present.
Several unions are lobbying the federal government for this to be changed.
“It’s not fair that young workers miss out on super simply because they haven’t turned 18,” said United Voice’s national president Jo Schofield.
Antony Burke, a research officer with the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Union, said the 30-hour requirement should be dropped.
“We make claims for young people who don’t meet the 30-hour requirement and many end up receiving super,” he said.
“We’re trying to get the 30-hour requirement removed.”
United Voice covers workers in the hospitality, childcare and security services industry and is also concerned that some employers are structuring the work schedules of casual labourers to avoid paying super.
To get super contributions a casual worker must earn $450 a month through a single employer.
“We know of many cases where employers simply hire more casuals to make sure they don’t have too many employees earning over $450 each month,” Ms Schofield said.
“That way they are able to keep super contributions to a minimum.”
Paying super to casual staff
There are some other exceptions to the ‘$450 a month rule’.
In many workplaces superannuation entitlements are prescribed in enterprise agreements negotiated between unions and employers.
Some enterprise agreements require employers to pay super to casual workers even if they are earning less than $450 in specified workplaces.
So, even if you’re under 18 and working less than 30 hours a week you may still be able to get superannuation payments from your employer.
There are thousands of enterprise agreements so, you should check whether such an entitlement for casual workers applies to your workplace by visiting the Fair Work Commission website.
If you don’t have time to plough through the text of your workplace agreement you should contact your union to find out.
Retirees who work part-time – not a grey issue
There is much confusion in workplaces about whether aged pensioners who work casual or part-time hours are eligible to receive superannuation contributions.
Pauline Hayes, a spokesperson for the Retail Employees Superannuation Trust, says all part-time workers are eligible for superannuation so long as they earn more than $450 a month.
“If the retiree is over 65 years and earning $450 or more (before tax) in salary or wages per calendar month they are required to receive Superannuation Guarantee contributions from their employer,” she said.
According to the Australian Tax Office, the confusion surrounding this entitlement is due to the fact that Superannuation Guarantee payments did not apply to retirees’ earnings until a few years ago.
“Previously, the Superannuation Guarantee was not payable for workers aged 70 and over,” an ATO spokesperson said.
“This age limit has been abolished and since 1 July 2013 the Superannuation Guarantee is payable for mature workers.”
However, the ATO also advises that retirees receiving an age pension may incur a reduction in pension income if their fortnightly earnings breach certain thresholds.
If you’re a single pensioner, you can earn up to $162 a fortnight without incurring a reduction to your pension payment.
For every dollar earned over that threshold, the aged pension is reduced by 50 cents.
For retired couples, the aged pension will be reduced by 50 cents for each dollar earned above $288 a fortnight.
Tips for part-time and casual workers
• In most cases if you earn more than $450 a month you are more than likely to have a superannuation entitlement.
• If you’re under 18 and don’t meet the 30 hours a week requirement, you should check to see if you have a super entitlement under an enterprise agreement.
For more information check the ATO website here.