Unpaid super is still a big problem for many workers

Getty Images 576739201 unpaid super

A recent Industry Super Australia report has found nearly a quarter of the Australian workforce is owed $5 billion in unpaid super, showing this is still a big problem for many workers.

The numbers

Industry Super Australia’s report on unpaid super found almost three million workers lose an average of $1,700 in super annually, which could leave those workers with an estimated $60,000 less in retirement. Around 1.7 million were men, and 1.3 million were women.

Young workers and those receiving lower incomes were most likely to be underpaid super, with hospitality and blue-collar trades identified as being particularly at risk. A third of workers under 30 have been underpaid super, which equates to around 890,000 people.

Half of workers earning less than $25,000 p.a. missed super payments and 30% of those earning between $25,000 p.a. and $50,000 p.a. were underpaid super.

Infographic courtesy of Industry Super Australia

What you should do if you think you’ve been underpaid

Eligible employees are entitled to super guarantee (SG) contributions from their employer, equivalent to 10% of ordinary time earnings. If eligible, your employer is required by law to pay SG contributions at least quarterly. This means that while your contributions will be listed on your regular payslips (which may be weekly, fortnightly or monthly), your employer may not make the payments to your super fund until the end of the quarter.

Here are the high-level steps of what you should do if you think your super has been underpaid. Full details are available on the ATO website.

  • Step 1 – Check if you’re entitled to super

    The ATO’s ‘Am I entitled to super?’ tool can help you determine if you’re entitled to SG contributions. The tool will ask you to answer some questions about your working arrangement with your employer, and will then advise you whether you’re entitled to SG contributions.

  • Step 2 – Has the correct super payment been made into the right fund?

    You should check your online account regularly, as well as your payslip, to ensure your SG contributions or any other payments from your employer have been paid into the right fund.

    Your SG contributions may have been paid into a different fund, particularly before ‘stapling’ came into effect on 1 November 2021.

    Your member statement is a great way to check up on your super and it details your transactions. You will have received an email to access your member statement or a posted statement, depending on your preferences.

    Recent legislative changes – super stapling

    Your existing active super account will now be ‘stapled’ to you and follow you when you change jobs. This is different to the previous system where you were automatically placed in your new employer’s default fund if you didn't make an active choice. When you start a new job, your employer may need to request your stapled super fund details from the ATO. Your SG contributions will be paid to your stapled fund if you don’t make a choice.

  • Step 3 – Calculate your super entitlements

    If you believe you’ve been underpaid super and you’ve checked your account, you should be able to calculate how much super you’re entitled to and the period it relates to. The ATO’s Estimate my super tool could help you determine an approximate amount.

  • Step 4 – Make a report

    Once you’ve gone through each step and confirmed with our team that your super hasn’t been paid in full, you can report your employer through the ATO. The ATO will keep you informed of your report’s status.

    Be prepared to make your report with the following information:

    • Your personal details, including Tax File Number (TFN)
    • The period of your inquiry
    • Your employer’s details, including their Australian Business Number (ABN)

We’re here to help

If you think you’ve been underpaid super, our team is here to help. Call us, or visit the Unpaid super page.

Contact us