New report once again shows that retirement is not so super for women
A major new report from the Australian Services Union (ASU) has highlighted the continued and growing inequity women workers face when it comes to saving for retirement.
The Not So Super, For Women: Superannuation and Women’s Retirement Outcomes report is the result of a survey of 4,000 workers and shows that Australia’s compulsory superannuation system is failing women workers.
According to the report, “data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics confirm that women’s superannuation balances are systemically lower than men’s and that the gap increases throughout their working lives, reaching $70,000 by the statutory retirement age of 65”.
Meanwhile, “the median women’s superannuation balance immediately prior to retirement is currently less than $80,000 which would fund less than three years of retirement even on the most basic living standard”.
The Human Rights Commission reports that on average women have only one third of the amount of retirement savings as men.
This super gap is caused by a number of factors including gender pay inequity and women being far more likely to take time out of the workforce or work part-time due to family or caring responsibilities.
Minimum superannuation insufficient
Currently, all employees who earn more than $450 per calendar month receive superannuation payments from their employer equivalent to 9.5% of their ordinary wages. This payment is referred to as the Superannuation Guarantee (SG).
The former Labor federal government determined that 9.5% SG was insufficient to provide a reasonable retirement and legislated to increase it incrementally to 12% by 2019. The Abbott federal government subsequently froze SG increases in 2014. Further freezes legislated by the Turnbull government mean the SG rate will remain at 9.5% until 2021 and not reach 12% until 2025.
What is superannuation co-contribution?
It is important for women employees to consider super co-contribution given the research continues to show that women are much more likely to be affected by insufficient savings at retirement.
With full increases to the SG rate still many years away, superannuation co-contribution schemes allow employees to access additional super from their employer and maximise retirement savings.
Superannuation co-contribution means employees access additional super, above the SG rate, from their employer on the basis of the employee also contributing a percentage of their earnings into super.
For example, employees in Queensland Catholic Schools have three superannuation co-contribution options:
The ability to access superannuation co-contribution exists for the majority of Queensland school staff — including those in the Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican sectors, as well as many independent schools.
Accessing superannuation co-contribution
Due to the bargaining strength of IEUA-QNT members, the majority of employees in Queensland schools have access to a superannuation co-contribution scheme.
Members are urged to consider the benefits of accessing superannuation co-contribution. Where the provision exists in your collective agreement, simply write to your employer requesting access to the scheme.
To review the superannuation provision in your agreement, visit our website at www.qieu.asn.au/agreements or phone us on 1800 177 938.