Do you trust your employer is paying you the right amount of superannuation, just because it says so on your pay slip?
Under the law, employers are required to contribute 10 per cent superannuation to their employees’ wages.
But many aren’t.
Industry Super Australia data shows there is up to $5 billion of unpaid super each year, and workers don’t realise until it’s too late.
Here’s some tips on how to keep track and recover your superannuation if need be.
How do I know my super hasn’t been paid?
Don’t just rely on what your employer states in your payslip.
An ABC news investigation found that some workers were being told by their bosses that they were being paid superannuation, and some even went so far as mocking up statements.
However, when they checked with their super fund, the money had never been deposited, leading to them individually missing out on thousands of dollars — and, in one case, led to their disability insurance lapsing.
Experts say it’s best to check the money has actually been banked into your super fund account.
You can also check your super balance and, for any forgotten super accounts, via the ATO section of my.gov.au.
Industry Super Australia’s chief executive says that, often, super is not paid by employers in sync with wages and has called for reforms to align it.
So how do I check?
It’s really easy.
You can call your superannuation fund directly or check your statement online.
If you are unsure of the amount of superannuation you are owed, you can also contact the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to help chase down the missing money.
“We investigate every claim of unpaid super that is reported to us,” says Emma Rosenzweig, ATO’s deputy commissioner of superannuation.
“We would encourage people to come forward to us as soon as they believe that they have not been paid their super contributions.
“While we’ll work with employers who want to do the right thing, and get back on track, for those who don’t, we will take firm action.”
What can the ATO do to recover your money?
The ATO can chase down unpaid super for you.
If your employer does not pay your super, they are not meeting their super guarantee (SG) obligations under the law and may face penalties and possibly jail time.
The ATO can check to see, in real time, whether the employer has paid your super or not.
If not, the ATO can hit the employer with fines on top of the super owed.
Ms Rosenzweig says that if an employer has underpaid their super contributions, they will become liable for the super guarantee charge.
“Now the charge is calculated at more than the original contributions would have been and includes an interest and administration component,” she says.
“And, most importantly, it is not able to be claimed as a tax deduction by an employer.
“On top of this, there are additional penalties that can apply, of up to 200 per cent of the charge.”
Over the past 12 months, the ATO has hit employers with more than $240 million in fines, but no one has gone to jail.
There are also organisations you can contact for help if you think you’ve been underpaid super, such as:
- your relevant trade union
- workplace legal centres, such as JobWatch and Young Workers Legal Centre
- the Fair Work Ombudsman
- the ATO.
What if a company has gone bust? Can I still get my super?
This becomes really tricky.
Unlike the Fair Work Ombudsman, which can easily recover your wages, once an employer has gone bust the ATO often won’t chase the super on your behalf.
“If a business is already going through insolvency, then we work very closely with insolvency practitioners to make sure that any unpaid super contributions are accounted for in that process,” Ms Rosenzweig says.
“If a company has already been de-registered, then it no longer legally exists. And, so, the ATO is constrained from taking any further action in those scenarios.”
However, Superannuation Minister Jane Hume says company directors can be personally chased down through the courts.
Despite that, Industry Super Australia and the Australian Labor Party have called for changes to the law to make it easier for Australians to recover their superannuation.
In the meantime, the ATO’s advice is for people to pay greater attention to their superannuation.
Ms Rosenzweig says they can also chase down any lost or unclaimed super for you.
“And you can also use our latest tool, the Your Super comparison tool, to compare a number of funds and their performance,” she says.
© 2020 Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.
ABC Content Disclaimer