Addressing the issue, a Senate Inquiry into women's economic
security in retirement examined why women retire with significantly less super
than men and are more vulnerable to poverty, particularly later in life. HESTA was among a number of organisations to provide a submission to the Inquiry.
An uneven playing field
According to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), women in Australia retire with 47% less in their super than men.*
The reasons for the difference in men and women’s super balances are complex, but you can start taking small steps today, such as making extra contributions, to help boost your super for the future.
Our submission highlighted that the biggest reason for the super gap is the gender pay gap.
Research by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency shows the gender pay gap in health and community services is 27%. This means women simply have less going into their super each month.
“The super gap women experience is not due to the choices they make – the main causes are the gender pay gap that sees women earning less than their male counterparts and unpaid time out of the workforce,” says HESTA CEO, Debby Blakey.
If the gender pay gap wasn’t bad enough, the system is also designed to reward unbroken careers.
Most women, take time out of the workforce to raise children or care for elderly family members.
That’s why we want to change the super system so women can perform these roles and not be penalised when they retire.
Findings from the Inquiry were handed down in April 2016 and
included recommendations that, if implemented, could help close the gender super savings gap and improve the retirement outcomes for many women.
In our submission to the Inquiry we fought for the following:
Keep lower paid workers' benefits
The Government announced prior to the 2016 election that it would retain the LISC, now renamed the Low Income Superannuation Tax Offset (LISTO). The LISTO is an important equity measure as it ensures those earning up to $37,000 pay no tax on superannuation guarantee (SG) payments their employer makes. Without the LISTO, they would pay the same, or in some cases, a higher tax rate on their super contributions than they pay on their wages. Every other Australian earning more than $37,000 benefits from super’s tax concessions.
Everyone deserves super
Workers who earn less than $450 per month from one employer do not recieve any super. We would like to see all workers receiving contributions. This is particularly vital for women who work multiple jobs for different employers.
Reward caring roles
Many women perform unpaid caring roles. These valuable contributions to our society should be recognised. Overseas countries have systems that are good examples of how Australia could reform its system to become more equitable for women.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY
Top up your super
Putting a small amount extra into your super each month can make a huge difference when you retire. An additional $20 a week can make a significant difference come retirement age.
Consolidate your accounts
If you’re a member of multiple super funds, consider rolling all your accounts into one fund. This can help your super grow by reducing fees.
Make a one-off payment
If you find you have a little more in your bank account than usual, consider making a one-off super payment.
* Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS); Retirement and Retirement Intentions, Australia, July 2012 to June 2013; abs.gov.au/ausstats/ abs@.nsf/mf/6238.0