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Not so Super: Women at a Disadvantage When It Comes to Superannuation

Not only is the gender pay gap a well-known problem, disadvantaging women for many years, the superannuation gap between men and women is also becoming increasingly apparent. According to Industry Super Funds, women are retiring with 47% less super than men. Lower wages are a key factor as to why women retire with significantly less super, however it is not the only factor.

Why are women at a disadvantage?

There are significantly more women than men who engage in casual and part-time work. This means that it is harder to meet the income threshold of $450 a month that the Government currently has imposed. As a result, women who have various occupations in a part time or casual role are at risk of not receiving monthly superannuation payments.

In Australia, women tend to be the primary carers of children and other family members who have a disability. Sandra Buckley, who is the CEO of Women in Super states that ‘women take an average of 5 years out of the workforce to care for children and work part time’. A solution to this would be to allow women to have more flexible working arrangements from home in the event that they are unable to physically attend their place of employment.

Women are further disadvantaged when they go on paid parental leave because no superannuation is paid throughout this period as employers are not required to do so. This is the case even though employers make superannuation payments for every other type of leave. The absence of consistent superannuation contributions means that women have significantly less when they retire.

The current taxation system set in place by the Government considerably favours high income earners. This means that out of the $30 billion spent annually on super tax concessions, almost nothing goes to the bottom 30 percent of income earners, majority of whom are women.

What the statistics say

While there are various reasons why women retire with 47% less super than men, this figure means that there are more women who live in poverty throughout their retirement age because the system has proven to be unfair. Currently, the minimum amount employers are required to contribute each month is 9.5%, an increase to 12% would benefit women who are earning significantly less. This does however depend on the Government’s willingness to intervene.

What can you do?

While change in the superannuation gap is highly dependent on the Government acting to implement legislation to change the current tax system and address the gender pay gap, there are also ways women can assist in closing the super gap. One way is to make additional contributions into your superannuation fund before tax. Regardless of the amount, small contributions for a long period of time can significantly change the final retirement amount. Additionally, each super fund has a different fee structure, thus it is advisable to engage in further research to determine which policy and structure best suits you on an individual basis.

How Shine Lawyers can help

Shine Lawyers have an experienced legal team to assist everyday Australians with accessing their Super and insurance entitlements in the event that they cannot work due to injury or illness. Our lawyers are experts in Superannuation and TPD claims and can answer any questions you may have about your potential Super entitlements. Contact us now.

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: June 13, 2019.

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