Recovering unpaid super Bill introduced by Xenophon Team

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A Bill to help recover unpaid superannuation has been introduced to the Parliament by the Nick Xenophon Team.

The Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) has introduced the Fair Work Amendment (Recovering Unpaid Superannuation) Bill 2017 to the House of Representatives. The Bill would allow the Fair Work Ombudsman to use its authority to help recover unpaid Superannuation Guarantee, among other changes.

NXT also wants the $450 minimum monthly salary and wages threshold for Super Guarantee contributions to be abolished, and the salary sacrifice ‘loophole’ to be closed. Employers would be required to notify employers, likely on payslips, which superannuation contributions are paid and which are not. The Bill would remove restrictions on choice of super fund, from 1 July 2018.

The Bill wold also require the ATO to conduct a review of employers’ compliance with Superannuation Guarantee obligations and expand the information super funds report to the ATO.

“When combined, it is expected that these measures will enhance the ability of employees to recover unpaid superannuation from their employers, remove idiosyncratic exemptions that currently reduce the amount of superannuation contributed to employees by their employers, and allow the Federal Government to track superannuation more effectively to inform public policy and to help identify problem employers,” says the Explanatory Memorandum (EM) to the Bill.

Aspects of the Bill are similar to Government policy, such as expanding choice of super fund and removing the ability of employers to claim salary sacrifice contributions against Super Guarantee obligations. However the Government also repealed a measure which would have required reporting on payslips the actual super contributions paid by employers.

The EM says the Bill will “have no financial impact”. It also doesn’t include a statement of compatibility with the objective of superannuation, though the Superannuation (Objective) Bill 2016 is still before the Senate.

The Bill has been welcomed by Industry Super Australia, saying it would “introduce significant new safeguards”.

“The Xenophon Team’s Bill represents real action for workers across the country,” said Industry Super public affairs director Matt Linden.

“The unpaid super of millions of hard-working Australians should be a top priority for the government,” he said.

“Unpaid super is the number one issue in superannuation today – it is leaving Australians short of savings at retirement and placing extra pressure on the age pension”.

The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) also welcomed the introduction of a Bill which would remove the $450 threshold for Super Guarantee – a change for which AIST has repeatedly called.

AIST CEO Eva Scheerlinck said the minimum threshold for SG contributions was outdated and impeded the ability of people who work multiple jobs to save for their retirement.

“We have examples where someone is working for 3 or 4 employers but aren’t hitting the income requirements for superannuation from any one of them,” said Ms Scheerlinck.

“If we want superannuation to be truly universal then the threshold must go, particularly with the increasing casualization of the workforce.”

“By making superannuation a universal entitlement we creating a simpler system for everyone – if you’re over 18 and work for an employer, you’re entitled to super – no exceptions.”

AIST also welcomed the proposed change to how employers report super contributions.

“Superannuation is deferred wages and must be treated as such on employee payslips,” said Ms Scheerlinck.

“Clearer reporting will allow employees to check their super balance like they would their bank account, making it easier for them to notice errors or non-payment.”

The Bill was introduced by Rebekha Sharkie, the Nick Xenophon Team MP for the seat of Mayo. After it was read a second time debate was adjourned to a later date.

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