Does your candidate support Superannuation for Everyone?

April 19, 2022 News

Chris Gazenbeek,

SDA Secretary

In 2022, a Federal election year, the SDA is calling out what the Government should do for retail, warehouse and fast-food workers.

For Australia to be a better place, workers need secure jobs, with decent conditions, that are also free of harassment and abuse from customers. And superannuation is one of the important conditions that workers deserve.

Future members of parliament should be working to make superannuation – alongside the pensions – even better at delivering decent retirements for our citizens and strong investment in the Australian economy.

$450 barrier removed – union campaigns on Superannuation are working

The SDA joined with the Australian Services Union and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation in a Stand Up For Superannuation campaign seeking superannuation to be paid on every dollar earned, including by abolishing the $450 threshold. Until February 2022, you had to earn greater than $450 per calendar month to receive superannuation.

In 2021, a budget announcement was made that the Government would abolish the rule. Without the efforts of the SDA and Australian Unions, this could have been a broken promise.

SDA members delivered letters to every Federal member of parliament seeking that the legislation be passed urgently. And it worked. The parliament legislated that this be the case in February 2022.

This is a great win for low-income earners, and especially for women who are often working fewer hours when they’re caring for children or family members.

We have also campaigned to ensure the Government delivers on the wise to 12% by July 2025. Some members of parliament suggested another freeze like those imposed by the Abbott and Turnbull Governments. But politicians know that 10% in superannuation payments is not enough, and that is why their superannuation scheme pays 15.4%. The next rise to 10.5% occurs on 1 July 2022.

Superannuation isn’t paid to all under 18’s or on paid parental leave and a range of other payments
Given the sustained attack on our world-class superannuation system, candidates for public office should be told, in no uncertain terms, that superannuation is a good thing.

Superannuation plus the age pension should allow Australians to maintain the same standard of living in retirement as they have during their working life. At present, that isn’t the case – in part because superannuation is not paid on every dollar a person earns.

The payment of superannuation is governed by a superannuation guarantee act that says superannuation is not paid to those who are under 18 and working less than 30 hours. The law also has regulations that say superannuation does not have to be paid on parental leave which means that, among other payments, superannuation is not paid on parental leave payments.

Superannuation isn’t paid on every dollar you earn because government policy hasn’t kept up with the workforce.
The nature of the workforce has changed since guaranteed superannuation was introduced in the 1990’s, but the retirement income system hasn’t kept up.

It was developed with assumptions about full-time and consistent hours of work. However, casual, part-time and contract work are increasingly part of Australia’s modern workforce.

There is a trend of increasing part-time work patterns among working Australians. In the five years to November 2019, total employment growth was 12.2% and in the same period of growth part-time work was 15.6 %. In November 2019, women represented 68% of the part time workforce, down from 70% in 2014, but still more than double the proportion of men.

Part time work represents 32% of employment in Australia. However as at July 2017, 1.5 million workers held two concurrent jobs, 409,000 held three and 166,700 held four or more concurrent jobs.

This demonstrates that while part-time work may offer flexibility and be a choice for some workers, for many others, their only option is to work multiple part-time jobs.

The retail industry has one of the highest incidences of workers with multiple part-time jobs.

There are 210,000 people with a primary job in retail as well as other employment. Of those, around 55,000 workers also have their second job in retail. There are an additional 135,000 workers with their primary employment in another sector, and a second job in retail.

REST commissioned research in 2016, the Future of Work, which showed that the part-time and casual workforce comprised workers who were most likely to be between 18 and 24 years old (30%), female (70%), and earning $37,000 (before tax) per annum.

More than three in four employers (77%) and seven in ten employees (69%) surveyed expect it will become the norm for people to pick up extra work through job-related websites or apps. More recent evidence supports this expectation.

Research released by the Victorian Government in 2019 suggested that 13% of the population has at some time engaged in ‘gig’ work via a digital platform, and 7% of the population has done so in the prior 12 months.

With a workforce changing this much, the old models of superannuation needs to change so that it’s moved from being world class in the public sector, managerial and multi-national roles to be world class for everyone.

Our superannuation system is currently ranked sixth of out of 43 in the world, but it can be first. We just need governments to get the job done.

Some questions you could ask candidates:

  • Do you support the rise to 12%? How would you vote of another freeze was proposed?
  • Do you support superannuation being paid on every dollar a person earns, including:
    • For those under 18 who work less than 30 hours, and
    • For those who are on parental leave?
  • Do you support superannuation being paid on payments during times away from work that disproportionately impact women, such as childcare and other Centrelink payments?

Our objective remains to get superannuation paid on every dollar we earn!