6 tips to avoid being short-changed on your superannuation


By Olivia Maragna

Around one-third of human life is spent working and while this might sound daunting for some, not being paid the correct amount of superannuation during your working life is certainly going to create a hole in your retirement nest egg.

If you need a reminder to take notice of your own nest egg, then there is no better motivation than to know that you may be among the one in every three employees who aren’t getting the correct amount of superannuation. In fact, around 2.4 million Australian workers eligible for super entitlements are missing out on some or all of their entitlements, a new report reveals.

Using ATO and ABS data, the report reveals that employers are not paying compulsory superannuation payments to the tune of $3.6 billion a year, equating to $1489 or almost four months of super for the average worker affected.

Workers aged under 30 were more likely to miss out – 37 per cent of 20-24 year-olds compared to 23 per cent of 50-54 year-olds and workers in the construction, hospitality and cleaning industries, and low-income workers were also more likely to miss out.

So, how often do you just toss your payslip aside because the money hits your bank account regularly, without really doing some checks on your superannuation entitlement?

Here are some tips on what to look out for and what you should do if you’re a victim.

Check super

Most people see their superannuation contributions on their pay slip and assume this means that it’s getting paid. This may not be the case. Always ensure that the superannuation contributions actually hit your superannuation account and reconcile this to your payslips at least annually.

Most employers don’t need to actually pay your superannuation until the month following the end of a quarter. For example if you worked from October to December, your employer may have up until the January 28 to pay your superannuation contributions.

The real cost of ignoring it

Those who actually have superannuation owing by their employer, generally won’t bring it up while they are still employed in fear of adverse consequences. Instead they wait until they have moved on to their next job before following it up. Unfortunately this may mean that super remains unpaid for much longer and affects your long-term superannuation balance.

Talk to your super fund

It’s best to first check your last member statement from your super fund or contact them to confirm whether your employer has paid your super contributions for the period you are investigating or whether there has been an administrative error in allocating your benefits. This may be an error on your super fund’s behalf.

If you haven’t already, create a myGov account and link the Australian Taxation Office to check if you have received any recent contributions and what the balance is.

Understand your entitlements

It’s important that you ensure you are eligible to receive super. Usually an employer has to pay super contributions if you’re 18 years old or over and paid at least $450 before tax in salary or wages in a calendar month. If you’re under 18 years old, you must work more than 30 hours per week and are paid at least $450 in salary or wages before tax in a calendar month.

It doesn’t matter if you work casual, part-time or full-time hours. You may also be eligible for super if you are a contractor working and being paid primarily for labour. The Australian Taxation Office has a Super Tool to help work out if you are entitled and how much you should be paid. You can also use this tool to report any unpaid contributions.

Talk to your employer

While it may be hard to approach the subject, the next step is to talk to your employer. This can be dealt with by asking a few simple questions. You should ask them how often they are contributing to your super fund, into which fund they are paying it and how much they are paying.

Prevention is better than cure

If you are one of the 2.4 million Australians affected by this, ensure it doesn’t happen again. When starting your next job, ask your employer if you are eligible to choose your super fund, how often they pay and whether they offer any other benefits that you may wish to take advantage of such as salary sacrificing. It’s a good idea to ask these sorts of questions when you start work with an employer so you know what to expect.

This article also appears on the Sydney Morning Herald website