By Emily Sakzewski
Simply because an amount of superannuation is displayed on your pay slip each week does not mean your employer is actually depositing it.
This will be the case for about a third of Australian workers who are ripped off by employers that do not pay the required superannuation entitlements.
Research by Industry Super Australia and Cbus found employers dodging superannuation payments were pocketing $3.6 billion per year from 2.4 million workers.
The study highlighted medium-sized businesses as the least likely to pay their employees the appropriate superannuation.
The findings prompted workers to share on social media their experiences of employers withholding some or all of their superannuation entitlements, in some cases for years.
“My last boss ripped me off $8,600 then went into liquidation when they found out about it and sold the business. I got $480 from FEG [Fair Entitlements Guarantee] then paid 60 per cent tax on that,” Steven said.
“I worked for [company name withheld] a while back. They didn’t pay into our super so mine lapsed, taking with it the insurance I needed when I had an accident at work,” Judith said
“I had a previous employer way back in 2001 that didn’t pay my super. I contacted the ATO and turns out he wasn’t paying super to any of his staff. They sorted it out, I got my super, the employer was fined. The ATO were very helpful,” Amber said.
“I had an employer in 2000 who just didn’t pay superannuation. I contacted the ATO and they couldn’t care for my little amount! Good luck others!” Kathy said.
Monitoring superannuation contributions may be a low priority for many — especially for young workers — but the ATO warns a failure to promptly report employers doing the wrong thing could leave workers short-changed.
As thousands of Australian found out the hard way, when it comes to chasing down unpaid super, time is of the essence.
‘Awkward’ experience made people ‘wary about coming to work’.
Nine years ago, Trisha (not her real name) worked as a chef for a childcare company.
It was a small business that was on the verge of expanding, but the director maintained a close-knit “family feel” within the workplace.
Trisha was friends with most of her co-workers, who she still keeps in contact with.
It was one co-worker — an older woman who had worked there for a long period — who alerted her to the possibility their boss was not doing the right thing.
“One day she showed me a letter from her superfund that said no contributions had been made to her account for four or six months,” Trisha said.
Word spread around the workplace about what had happened, and after checking their super, up to 30 staff members discovered their super entitlements were being withheld.
For Trisha, who had only worked there for two years and had much of her career ahead, the revelation was inconvenient — but for her co-worker who had worked there much longer and was nearing the age of retirement, the impact was dire.
“We had been working 10-, 11-hour shifts,” Trisha said.
“We were spending a lot of our time there and investing a lot into this business.”
After talking to management, her director blamed the oversight on a fired bookkeeper, who had been in charge of superannuation payments.
Trisha said beyond that, the director “gave no explanation and no apology”, and this made things awkward.
“The whole thing made people wary about coming to work,” she said.