Amnesty for employers after billions stolen from workers
Employers who have stolen superannuation from employers will be free from all penalties under an amnesty bill passed by the Morrison government.
Despite near-daily revelations of workers having their wages and superannuation stolen, the government has offered an unprecedented blanket pardon to employers who have failed to comply with their legal obligations.
The amnesty period, which commenced in May 2018 when it was initially announced, will continue until six months after the bill receives royal assent.
Industry Super Australia (ISA) said one in three workers are being robbed of super, costing workers a combined $5.9 billion per year, based on Australian Taxation Office 2017/18 data. Over just 10 years, this amounts to $60 billion in stolen superannuation.
Despite the scale of super theft, the amnesty is only expected to recoup a fraction of the payments owed to employees.
The government estimates more than $160 million of stolen super will be returned to workers during the amnesty.
The terms of the amnesty mean employers will not face any legal or regulatory penalties and any stolen super repayments will be tax deductible (as is the case with regular super payments).
Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) President Michele O’Neil described the amnesty as a “shameful” response to the super theft crisis impacting workers.
“We are living through a national crisis of wage theft and superannuation forms a significant part of this issue,” Ms O’Neil said.
“Instead of punishing the employers who have been stealing money from their employees, potentially for decades, the Morrison government has waved them through without any penalty whatsoever.
“The government has had seven years and has done nothing to help workers with unpaid super. Workers need their right to super included in the National Employment Standards so that repayment can be easily pursued and have super paid at the same time as wages.
“The best way to stop wage and super theft is to allow unions to once again conduct compliance checks in workplaces to end this epidemic of ripping off workers.”
IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said history would look poorly upon employers and governments who had been complicit in stealing workers’ retirement futures.
“This amnesty will never be able to make amends for the billions missing from workers’ super balances,” Mr Burke said.
“Superannuation is, and has always been, workers’ money.
“This money should have been safely compounding in value within workers’ super funds, but instead it was lining the pockets of employers.
“This level of theft, which will cost many their secure retirement, can simply never be forgiven.”