Need to know
- Generally, all employees aged 18 and older are entitled to super payments
- If your employer isn't paying you super, you can report them to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO)
- Super Consumers Australia supports a change in the law to require employers to pay super alongside wages
Unpaid super is a major problem. In the 2018/19 financial year, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) estimated that it cost Australians $2.5 billion.
If your employer doesn't pay you super, you're not just missing out on lost earnings – the impact of compound interest means you could lose much more than the original amount of super you were entitled to over your working life.
In the 2018/19 financial year, the ATO estimated that unpaid super cost Australians $2.5bn
Not only does unpaid super mean you have less income in retirement, but it could also mean your disability insurance is 'turned off', depriving you of cover if illness or injury forces you out of the workforce.
This loss of cover happens because super funds have to turn off insurance if super contributions stop for more than 16 months. Some funds will cancel it even earlier or when an account is low.
Check that you're entitled to super
Generally, if you're over 18 and an employee, your employer must pay you super. Whether you're working full-time, part-time or casually, or as a temporary resident of Australia, you're entitled to super.
If you're under 18 but working for one employer for more than 30 hours a week, you're entitled to super.
If you're under 18 but working for one employer for more than 30 hours a week, you're entitled to super
For a long time, people earning less than $450 a month from a single employer weren't entitled to super. But this rule will change on 1 July 2022 (assuming various proposals go ahead), when all eligible employees will get super no matter what they earn in a month.
Self-employed and freelance workers
If you're self-employed or a freelancer, it's your responsibility to pay your own super out of what you earn. It's not compulsory to contribute 10%, but Moneysmart says you can use this percentage as a guide.
The situation for contractors is complex. If you're a contractor, you're entitled to super if you're paid mainly (or entirely) for your labour. Whether or not you're categorised as a contractor can be tricky to work out, but the ATO has an 'Employee/Contractor decision tool', which can help.
If you're still unsure of your status, try the ATO's 'Am I entitled to super' tool.
Check your super is being paid
You can check whether you're getting your super through your super fund. Generally, there will be a section in your online portal (or in your paper statements) that shows all transactions, including employer contributions. Alternatively, you can call your fund and ask them.
Note that a super payment appearing on your payslip doesn't necessarily mean you're getting this money – make sure it's actually going into your account.
How much super are you entitled to?
Your employer currently has to pay 10% of your 'ordinary time' earnings. This amount is scheduled to increase by 0.5% each year until it reaches 12% in 2025.
Overtime doesn't count as ordinary time earnings, so you aren't entitled to super on this work.
Very high income earners may also earn more than the Maximum Super Contribution. This threshold is updated each year in this ATO table. For example, if you earn more than $58,920 in super for the 2021/22 financial year, your employer doesn't have to pay you any more super beyond this amount.
The ATO has a useful calculator to work out exactly how much super your employer needs to pay you.
How often does your employer have to pay you super?
Employers only have to pay super quarterly, although many already pay it alongside wages.
The ATO can only investigate an unpaid super claim once the due date for your employer to pay has passed. The ATO's website includes a table to find the relevant date for each reporting period.
Reporting non-payment to the ATO
Before you report any unpaid super to the ATO, it's a good idea to speak to your employer first. For instance, they may simply be paying it into an old or forgotten account.
But if you do want to go ahead and report the employer, use the ATO's online tool. The ATO will investigate every report.
We believe super should be paid with wages
Super Consumers Australia supports a change in the law to require employers to pay super alongside wages.
The development of single touch payroll has reduced reporting burdens for businesses and made it easier than ever for them to process super along with wage payments.
Further, a recent Super Guarantee Amnesty let employers make up for past missed super payments without penalties.
'No more excuses'
Super Consumers Australia policy manager Franco Morelli says the current set-up is outdated.
Requiring employers to only pay super every three months is the product of a bygone eraFranco Morelli, policy manager, Super Consumers Australia
"Requiring employers to only pay super every three months is the product of a bygone era, and it's no longer reasonable or relevant," he says.
"Worse, it's making it more difficult to track unpaid super. It's time for it to go and to require employers to pay super alongside wages.
"There should be no more excuses for employers who don't pay their super."