media release 


22 August 2022   


New HESTA modelling reveals impact of paying super on paid parental leave as support grows for key retirement equity measure for women


Prominent industry groups have today joined HESTA in backing the intention for super to be paid on Commonwealth Paid Parental Leave, with new HESTA data revealing the impact this key reform could have on its members’ retirement balances.


Leading organisations from the business, health, aged care and community services sectors, including Chief Executive Women, Early Childhood Education Australia and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, are among the growing coalition of 18 organisations who with HESTA are advocating for the retirement equity measure, which could result in a mother of two having $14,000[1] more at retirement.


New modelling[2] from HESTA has also shown the policy change could mean as much as 4.5% in additional super savings for an early childhood educator with three children, or 2.6% more for an aged care professional with two children. This could be a life-changing amount for women on lower incomes.  


HESTA CEO Debby Blakey said paying super on Commonwealth Paid Parental Leave payments is an important equity measure that could make a real difference for women. More than 80% of the Fund’s 950,000-strong membership base are women, with many typically low and middle-income earners.


“Every extra dollar our members can add to their super can really make a difference when they retire,” Ms Blakey said.


“Many HESTA members have lower account balances as they often work in casual, part-time or insecure work or in industries that are typically lower paid, like aged care and early childhood education. Achieving adequate super savings is then even harder as they’ll often also need to take long periods of unpaid time out of the workforce to care for others.”


“This policy change will give women’s retirement savings a much-needed boost, helping to close the gender super gap, as women are currently much more likely to be the ones taking parental leave.”


The $68 billion industry super fund earlier this year found nine in 10 of more than 2300 members surveyed strongly agreed that changes to Australia’s super system were needed to improve women’s financial security in retirement.


Regardless of gender, 85% of HESTA members surveyed supported paying super on parental leave, increasing to 91% for those under 35.


“Parental leave is the only commonly taken form of paid leave that does not include superannuation, sending a clear message that caring work is undervalued,” Ms Blakey said.


“Our members have told us paying super on paid parental leave is incredibly important to them and that they want to see this longstanding inequity changed so our retirement system is fairer for all Australians.”


The organisations standing with HESTA in supporting reform to pay super on paid parental leave can be found at


HESTA modelling showing the potential impact on member super balances at retirement from paying super on Commonwealth Paid Parental Leave payments:


A typical HESTA member in:

Potential increase in super balance at retirement from having:[3]


One child

Two children

Three children

Early Childhood Education & Care




Aged Care




Community Services




Primary Health





Quotes from supporting organisations


Pauline Vamos, Chief Executive Women Non-Executive Director, Chair Policy and Engagement Committee:

“Parental leave continues to be one of the few types of leave yet to attract superannuation. Extending the superannuation guarantee to paid parental leave is a critical lever for closing the gender gap in superannuation and improving women’s economic security across their lifetime.”


Annie Butler, Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation Federal Secretary:

“Women continue to be financially disadvantaged throughout their careers, especially when they take parental and carers leave, and then when they retire with reduced superannuation earnings. Providing women with super payments during parental leave is a common-sense solution in working to address the gender pay gap and securing their future.”


Jo Kowalczyk, Women in Super CEO:

“No one policy change will close the gender super gap, but paying super on paid parental leave is a critical element that must be legislated to ensure we do not condemn future generations of Australian women to a retirement in poverty.”


Samantha Page, Early Childhood Australia CEO:

“Early Childhood Australia supports HESTA’s initiative to improve financial security for parents and caregivers immediately after the birth of a baby. Our shared economic prosperity will be improved if we can reduce the ‘motherhood penalty’ currently experienced by women who choose to have children and allow both parents to give babies the priority they need to thrive.”


Leah Marrone, Australian Women Lawyers Association President:

“Super on paid parental leave is essential to securing a just, safe and equitable future for women. Australian Women Lawyers is proud to support this important call for changes to the law to secure women's financial security.”


Associate Professor Elizabeth Hill, The Australian Work + Family Policy Roundtable Co-convenor:

“Superannuation on paid parental leave is a vital gender equality measure that will support economic security for women and families.”


Paul Sadler, Aged & Community Care Providers Association Ltd (ACCPA) interim CEO:

“The Superannuation Guarantee payment is an important tool which assists working Australians to prepare for retirement. As significant is the Federal Government’s Paid Parental Leave Scheme, which supports parents to spend precious time with their new-born and young children. It’s a logical step to continue to pay superannuation during this important parental leave period to help families prepare for retirement.”


Edwina MacDonald, Australian Council of Social Service Acting CEO:

“The gap between men’s and women’s super balances is not only unfair, it leaves too many women at risk of poverty in retirement. Three things must change: better-paid jobs and career progression for women; major reform of tax breaks for super so people with low incomes (mainly women) receive the same support per dollar invested as those with high incomes (mainly men); and adding super to paid parental leave.”


Robert Potter, Australian Services Union National Secretary:

“The ASU position is that; it is vital that action is taken to improve the financial outcomes for women in superannuation. One action is to pay superannuation on all paid parental leave.”


Lloyd Williams, Health Services Union National Secretary:

“Women are at a greater risk of experiencing poverty in their later years due to low superannuation accumulation during their working life. Every step towards reducing the super gender pay gap and increasing financial security for women is a step in the right direction.”


Tim Kennedy, United Workers Union National Secretary:

“Working to care for a new baby is a very big job. It’s unfair that those who do this work are left with holes in their superannuation. Government superannuation contributions on paid parental leave would go some way to recognising the huge workload and contribution people make when they care for new babies.”


Michele O’Neil, Australian Council of Trade Unions President:

“Women retire with around half of the superannuation of men and one cause of this deep inequality is that superannuation is not paid on parental leave. Paying super on Commonwealth Paid Parental Leave would abolish an unjust inequity for women.”



[2] See table

[3] This is a forecast and is predictive in nature and as such the outcome cannot be guaranteed and may be different. Key assumptions used in the modelling include a retirement age of 67; AWOTE 3%; CPI 3%; investment return rate (real) 3.5% (above CPI figures, net of investment fees and taxes); investment return rate (nominal) 6.5%; wage growth (HESTA derived per industry as at 1/3/22); 32 weeks spent away from workforce (per child); age of mother 29, 31 and 33 for child 1,2,3 respectively. The modelling scenario assumptions are for an average HESTA member per industry, and include assumptions around current super balance, recent super guarantee activity, voluntary contributions (pre- and post-tax) and insurance premiums. Estimates on retirement amounts are in today’s dollars.

Media contact:

Sam Riley

General Manager Media Relations

(03) 8660 1684


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