Key inequalities in the superannuation system must be addressed, industry figures are telling the federal government.
The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) is using International Women’s Day today to pressure the government to close a super loophole that disproportionately affects women.
“For every dollar a man earns, a woman earns 67 cents on average, and women have 40 per cent less superannuation on retirement and live longer, which is hardly a recipe for the comfortable retirement they deserve,” says AIST CEO Eva Scheerlinck.
“They also spend more time out of the workforce doing unpaid work caring for children and other family members, which is even more reason that action should be taken to ensure they don’t fall further behind during career breaks.”
The AIST wants the government to extend compulsory super contributions to paid parental leave. Currently, employers have no obligation to make super contributions for employees on maternity or parental leave.
“Super on paid parental leave would allow parents to continue building their retirement savings while taking time out of the paid workforce to care for children,” Ms Scheerlinck says.
“It would be another step to improving the fairness, equity, adequacy and transparency of a retirement savings system which, although one of the best in the world, still has room for improvement.
“This includes maintaining the commitment to the legislated increase in the superannuation guarantee to 12 per cent by 2025, addressing the gender pay gap, and assessing the level of financial coercion experienced by women through the early release of superannuation scheme.”
HESTA CEO Debby Blakey says whoever wins the upcoming federal election needs to tackle the gender gap in super and the workplace as a priority.
“An incoming government needs to prioritise long-overdue superannuation equity measures and boost women’s workforce participation through improved access to affordable childcare,” says Ms Blakey.
“Women are also making an enormous economic and social contribution through the amount of unpaid caring roles they undertake. They shouldn’t be financially penalised with inadequate super savings and a greater vulnerability to poverty as they age.”
The government’s own statistics show that, on average, women are retiring with superannuation balances that are 23.4 per cent lower than those of men.
“We have an opportunity, as Australia starts to recover from the pandemic, to create a better normal,” says Ms Blakey.
“Taking substantive action now to address these persisting inequalities will make for a fairer Australia, but will also boost productivity and economic growth, which benefits everyone.”
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