Time to close the superannuation gender gap: ISA

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Industry Super Australia used International Women’s Day to call for the super gender gap to be bridged.

Industry Super Australia (ISA), along with Women in Super (WIS), have called on the federal government to make “simple” changes that could help close the super gender gap – such as removing the $450 threshold to receive Super Guarantee, keeping to the currently legislated increases to the Super Guarantee rate, and paying super on Commonwealth Paid Parental Leave.

Analysis finds that women retire on average with 40% less in superannuation than men. This isn’t confined to women nearing retirement age – women have less super than men in every age bracket. The smallest super gender gap is for people aged 20-24, 6.7%, and highest at 55-59, 40.4%.

One in three women retire with no superannuation, according to a 2016 Parliamentary report.

A survey commissioned by ISA found that women spend 12 years less in the full-time workforce, compared to men, with this having a “dramatic impact” on their super.

“Until we fix inequities in the super system we will continue to see women retiring with balances that are persistently lower than men,” said ISA Chief Executive Bernie Dean.

ISA says that factors contributing to the super gender gap include women leaving the paid workforce for unpaid caring, the gender pay gap (lower pay for the same job), the lower pay in female-dominated sectors such as nursing and teaching compared to male-dominated sectors, and women being more likely to have multiple part-time jobs.

The recommendation to remove the $450 monthly cap is aimed at this last group – who may be earning above the threshold in total, but because it is calculated per employer they receive no super contributions.

Women in Super Chief Executive Sandra Buckley said: “Women should not be asked to trade off rent allowance or wage increases for super. Every Australian is entitled to a dignified retirement.”

“For too long the structural inequities of the current super system have failed to take account of the women’s working patterns and lower lifetime income.”

“A growing number of women older than 55 face the dilemma of a poverty-stricken retirement, as a result of caring for others.”

“We have a unique opportunity now to act to change the structural inequities or we will be condemning future generations of women to the same appalling outcome.”

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