Unpaid super crushing Qld workers’ retirement dreams

| February 21, 2020

Queensland workers are robbed of more than $1.1 billion a year crushing their retirement dreams, Industry Super Australia (ISA) analysis has found.

New electorate analysis of ATO data from 2016-17 by Industry Super Australia (ISA) has revealed the devastating scope of the unpaid super scandal, with one in three Queensland workers hit.

Industry Super Australia Chief Executive Bernie Dean said the only way to put an end to Queensland’s $1.1 billion super rip-off is to make super payable on payday.”

“Across the state Queensland workers are losing thousands from having their super stolen, no area is immune. Unpaid super blasts a hole in workers’ savings, making a huge difference to their quality of life in retirement.”

“One in three Queensland workers have been ripped off by a dodgy boss and with enforcement sadly lacking they do so without fear of punishment.”

The federal electorates of Brisbane, Herbert and Dawson were the hardest hit – each racking up unpaid super debts of more than $40 million a year.

The average Queensland worker loses $1994 a year. That money can add up to a lot by the time they hit retirement, sometimes hundreds of thousands, it can mean the difference between a dignified retirement and one just scraping by.

Occupations worst affected are machinery operators, tradies, construction workers and hospitality workers. But those most at risk of super underpayments are young low-income workers, with research showing that almost half of those under-30 who earn less than $30,000 have been the victim of a super rip-off.

While most employers do the right thing and pay the full entitlement some exploit legal loopholes and lax enforcement to short-change workers.

An outdated law only requires super to be paid quarterly and not in line with pay cycles, making it is easy for payments slip through the cracks. Some dodgy bosses don’t pay super at all, despite what it says on payslips.

Mandating super payment on payday would make it much harder for dodgy bosses to rip off workers.

The Super Amnesty Bill due before the Senate next week holds the key to fixing the unpaid super farce, if the politicians can vote to make super payable on payday.

Super should also be included in the National Employment Standard, which would allow workers and their representatives the legal right to pursue any super they’ve had stolen from them.

As it stands workers must convince the Australian Tax Office to reclaim its unpaid super on their behalf, and its enforcement regime has been sadly lacking.

The ATO has rarely issued a maximum penalty for unpaid super and has only recovered a fraction of members’ money – meaning an effective amnesty for dodgy bosses already exists.

Not only are workers impacted but employers who do the right thing and pay their legal entitlements are able to be undercut by unscrupulous competitors.

Everyday, the government and Senate delays on the important reforms is another that almost 2.85 million Australians, which includes 556,000 from Queensland, are victims of the great super rip off.