Each year in Australia, employers are failing to pay billions of dollars in superannuation to their workers. Figures released by the ATO last year revealed that workers were underpaid $17.1 billion in compulsory super entitlements from 2009 to 2015 and $2.85 billion in the 2014/15 financial year alone.
The ATO audit points to small-to-medium businesses in the construction, retail, food services and accommodation sectors, as the worst offenders.
Recent media attention has also pointed to the changing workforce and growth of the gig economy which will leave thousands of Australian workers with inadequate savings for retirement.
But Cath Bowtell, Chief Executive, Industry Fund Services (IFS) says, “We are kidding ourselves if we think non-payment of superannuation is confined to casual or contract labour working short engagements for multiple employers.”
IFS which, amongst other services, collects unpaid super on behalf of a number of industry super funds collected almost $178m from 37,972 employers on behalf of 218,439 members in the 2017/18FY.
Ms Bowtell says IFS data confirms that unpaid super is common amongst smaller employers, but it is not limited to the gig economy.
She says IFS welcomes government changes that give the ATO greater power to crack down on non-compliance by employers, in particular introducing single touch payroll to businesses in July this year. However, this applies to businesses with 20 or more employees and she says 90% of employers with unpaid super employ 10 or fewer fund members.
“So while there is a role for the ATO, there’s also a lot more that super funds can do to chase up unpaid super, and educate their members and employers about their rights and obligations. And IFS plays a strong part in supporting this process.
Ms Bowtell says that in IFS’ experience, “Most employers do not set out to fall behind with super payments and early intervention is critical.
“Fund trustees are often the first to know when payments are missed, so the earlier action is taken, the more likely the debt will be recovered with a simple phone call.”
Central to IFS‘ approach in helping chase up members’ super entitlements to maximise funds available for their retirement, is protecting relationships between funds and employers. Using proven practices and highly specialised skills, IFS manages collections from start to finish, taking over the ‘difficult’ conversations and collecting any overdue payments.
How you as a member can ensure you’re receiving your entitlements
Check your super account at least once a year
The easiest way to find out if the deposits shown on your payslips match what was paid to your account is to:
- Check your most recent super statement
- Call your super fund, or
- Set up an online login to your super account, so that you can monitor payments received throughout the year.
What can I do if my super hasn’t been paid?
Call your super fund or your union if you are not comfortable speaking to your employer about any discrepancies.