What is superannuation?

Superannuation (or just Super) is fund that is used to provide for your retirement. It is made up of contributions from your work life. It is compulsory for your employer to make contributions of at least 9.5% of your ordinary time earnings to your superannuation fund at least every 3 months, if you earn over a certain amount. This is called the Superannuation Guarantee. You can also make voluntary contributions to your super from your own income. 

Please note, this article covers the minimum Superannuation Guarantee. Some Awards and Agreements may provide for a higher rate of super, or for it to be paid when you earn less per month. For advice, get in touch with us!

Are you eligible for super contributions?

Your employer MUST be making contributions to your super if you are:

  • Over 18 and earning over $450 per month or $350 per month if you are employed under the Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010; or
  • Under 18, earning more than $450 per month and working more than 30 hours per week;

Checking your super

Superannuation is important as it makes up a large part of your income once you retire. This is why its always a good idea to keep an eye out for wage-theft in the form of stolen super.

First you have to know the superannuation rate that you're entitled to. Most awards will have the minimum rate of 9.5% as your entitlement but if you are employed on an agreement you could be entitled to a higher rate of super.

The best way to make sure your employer is making the compulsory contributions is to check for the superannuation contributions listed on your payslip. Superannuation contributions must be included on your payslip. If you're meant to be receiving super but aren't seeing it on your payslip, there's a good chance you're being ripped-off.

Another way to check that your employer's contributions are being made is by going directly to your superannuation fund. You can check out your fund online and see every contribution that has been made. 

Many superannuation funds also provide things like life insurance so make sure to check that out too. 

Get in touch with us if you think that you haven't been paid the super you are entitled to - it's part of your wage, after all.

Consolidating your Super

Its important to always make sure all of the super you have collected from every job you have worked is in the one account. There are 2 reasons for this:

  1. Compounding interest: once your super has been paid to your account, it collects interest based on the amount in the fund. This interest compounds which means that you will earn super if you have it all in one account rather than having several accounts each with a smaller amount. 
  2. Fees: superannuation accounts tend to charge fees for management as well as different kinds of insurance. To minimise the amount you are paying in fees, you should get rid of any funds that you aren't actively contributing to. 

Its a good idea to take your superannuation account with you to any new job you get. You have the right to chose your own fund to which your employer must then contribute. If you already have multiple accounts from different jobs, you can consolidate them through the Australian Taxation Office. 

Scenario

Alex is 19 and works at a bakery in the city. He usually only works a couple of hours on the weekend and earns around $400 per month. This month Alex was asked to fill in for a sick co-worker throughout the week as well as doing his regular weekend shifts. Due to the additional hours, he ended up earning around $750 for this month's work but when he got his payslip it showed that his employer hadn't made any super contributions for him.

This is not okay. Pay slips have to show superannuation payments and Alex is over 18 and earned more than $450 for the month so, according to the Superannuation Guarantee, he is entitled to a superannuation contribution from his employer. Unpaid superannuation is a common example of wage-theft.

Note, if Alex was employed under the Hospitality Award, he should be paid superannuation once he earns more than $350 per month.

What to do if your'e not getting paid properly?

If you think you are not being paid properly, get in touch with us. We can give you advice about what you are entitled to, and help you decide what to do. We can also direct you to other people who can help.  

To find out more about how to join your union, visit http://www.unionsact.org.au/joinyourunion/ or have a look at our fact sheet here.

Authorised M Harrison for UnionsACT, 11 London Circuit, Canberra ACT 2601


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