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Tougher laws introduced to tackle superannuation theft


The government has introduced a bill to enshrine the right to superannuation payments in the National Employment Standards.

By Miranda Brownlee 10 minute read

A bill introduced into the House of Representatives this week will enable a wider range of employees to recover unpaid superannuation contributions through the Federal Court of Australia.

If legislated, the bill would see employers who don’t comply with their employee’s entitlements face civil penalties.

Minister for Workplace Relations Tony Burke said the Protecting Worker Entitlements Bill would benefit workers who are not covered by a modern award or enterprise agreement that contains a right to superannuation.

The bill allows these types of employees to take direct legal action for the recovery of unpaid superannuation.

Mr Burke said it will protect more workers from underpayment of superannuation contributions.

“This government stands against all forms of wage theft and worker exploitation,” Minister Burke said.

“Superannuation theft undermines the efforts of Australian workers to build a financially secure retirement.”

Minister for Financial Services Stephen Jones said it was critical all Australian workers have access to superannuation.

“We created superannuation and we believe in it, that’s why the Albanese Government is strengthening the superannuation system so that it is equitable, sustainable and delivers for all Australian workers.”

Currently, workers not covered by a modern award or an enterprise agreement containing a term requiring an employer to make superannuation contributions are reliant on the ATO intervening to recover lost superannuation and receive their rightful entitlements.

This change will complement the ATO’s powers, providing the strongest possible protection for employees against unpaid super.

The ATO’s most recent estimate of unpaid superannuation indicates that workers lost $3.4 billion in unpaid super in 2019–20.

“It is simply not good enough that employees are missing out on their superannuation. No employee should have their retirement incomes sabotaged by dodgy or negligent employers,” Minister Burke said.

“This legislation will increase the number of employees who will have the right to directly pursue superannuation owed to them. Employers may also face civil penalties if they do not comply with the entitlement.

“We made an election commitment to amend the Fair Work Act to include a right to superannuation and now we are delivering for Australian workers.”

Industry Super Australia (ISA) has previously welcomed the government’s commitment to including super in the National Employment Standards.

The industry body said the government should go further to address the underpayment of superannuation, however, by mandating the payment of super with wages and placing targets on the ATO’s recovery activities.

“Mandating the payment of super with wages is an overdue solution that will go a long way to addressing this national problem,” said ISA.

“It will make it easier for employees to track their super and reduce the instance of employers using super to manage cashflow and accumulate large unpaid super liabilities.”


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Miranda Brownlee

Miranda Brownlee


Miranda Brownlee is the deputy editor of SMSF Adviser, which is the leading source of news, strategy and educational content for professionals working in the SMSF sector.

Since joining the team in 2014, Miranda has been responsible for breaking some of the biggest superannuation stories in Australia, and has reported extensively on technical strategy and legislative updates.
Miranda also has broad business and financial services reporting experience, having written for titles including Investor Daily, ifa and Accountants Daily.

You can email Miranda on:miranda.brownlee@momentummedia.com.au

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