Disabled workers have received a significant boost for their superannuation prospects with the Fair Work Commission delivering a better deal for low-income earners with disability.
Generally, workers making less than $450 a month are not entitled to receive superannuation payments from their bosses.
However, a special arrangement for disabled low-income workers under the Supported Employment Services Award has meant they are entitled to receive 3 per cent of their ordinary time salary, or $6 a week, in superannuation benefits, whichever is the highest.
However a Fair Work Commission finding has changed that. The United Workers’ Union applied for the arrangement to be changed so that these employees would receive the standard superannuation guarantee of 9.5 per cent, regardless of their income level.
The full bench of the FWC found in the union’s favour and was swayed by the argument that low-income disabled workers got virtually no benefit from the current arrangements because their super payments were eaten up by fees and charges once administration insurance costs were taken into account.
“This is a huge win for disabled workers on the SES Award. Currently, disabled workers had their superannuation balances eaten away by fees and extra premiums for contingencies like disability which wasn’t fair and didn’t make sense,” UWU national secretary Tim Kennedy said.
“The United Workers Union has successfully campaigned for new provisions to be introduced in 2020. This is a great achievement for these workers.”
The changes will take effect from October 1, 2020, subject to further consultations.
AustralianSuper, the country’s largest super fund – with $145 billion under management – has recently introduced a no-insurance default option for disabled workers. It means they will be placed in an account without insurance unless they choose otherwise.
“It is also good to see the industry super funds stepping up and doing the right thing by their members,” Mr Kennedy said.
Until this year, all superannuation funds have been required to offer insurance (generally life and incapacitation policies) to all members on an opt-out basis. However, new legislation means insurance will be provided on an opt-in basis for those with balances less than $6000, and for those under 25, regardless of balance levels, from April 2020.
The FWC finding applies to supported employment services defined as ”a service to support the paid employment of persons with disability for whom competitive employment at or above the relevant award wage is unlikely and who, because of their level of disability, need substantial ongoing support to obtain or retain paid employment”.
“Supported employment services are commonly known as Australian Disability Enterprise,” the FWC finding said.
The award applies to about 20,000 workers.
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