Close the gender super gap
Cbus has gotten behind a campaign that looks to close the gender gap in retirement incomes for women.
It is not widely known that women, on average, currently retire with 47% less super than men and that a third of single women retire in poverty.
Make Super Fair, a campaign run by advocacy group Women in Super is pushing for recommendations that go some of the way to closing the super gap.
Breaks from work and part-time work associated with having kids
The reasons for the gap relate to broken work patterns due to child rearing and caring responsibilities, the disproportionate number of women in part-time and casual work and the fact that large numbers of women are concentrated in low-paid work.
Women more likely to work in casualised and low paid industries
Cbus Executive Robbie Campo says construction workers who also experience insecure work are likely to understand how it impacts on quality of life and the ability to plan for the future.
“Periods of unemployment between jobs, sham contracting, labour hire and the problem of getting on a job when you’re over 50 are features of the industry many Cbus members would be familiar with.
“Large numbers of women know nothing but the struggles that arise from broken work patterns.
“Combining motherhood and work means women often end up in insecure work or in jobs with little career progression,” she says.
“The high cost of childcare, particularly if there is more than one child in the family is also an impediment for some women to return to work.
“These factors lead to a reduction in their income and prevent them from accumulating adequate retirement savings.”
Women only get 33% of super tax concessions while 67% go to men
Industry Super Australia’s submission in November 2015 to the Economic Security for Women in Retirement Senate Inquiry states that many women get less government support for super savings. Around half of working women do not get any government support for their super savings at all as tax concessions are not given to low income earners. This is unfair and also affects a lot of low income earning men.
No super if you’re paid under $450 a month
Any job that pays less than $450 a month carries no requirement to pay superannuation. Many women work part time (sometimes juggling two or more casual or part time jobs) resulting in an estimated 220,000 women missing out on $125 million of super as they do not meet the requirement.
The super system must be modernised to ensure it is delivering its promise of universal and adequate retirement savings for everyone.
Ms Campo says that the system, created in the 1980s in a campaign in which construction workers led, reflected the workforce at the time which was mostly male, full time and continuous work.
“Australia’s super is the envy of countries around the world, but it’s time to modernise it to reflect the typical working patterns and outcomes of women."
For more information, visit www.makesuperfair.com.au
So, what can we do about it?
Cbus is supporting the Make Super Fair campaign, which focuses on 5 key changes to the system:
- Provide women and other low income earners with an additional $1,000 government contribution annually into their super, boosting their super balance and reaping the benefits of compounding interest over time. To ensure this is a well targeted measure, it would only apply from age 25 and only to accounts with balances of less than $100,000.
- No further delays to increase the super guarantee from 9.5% to 12% as the current rate does not enable most women, and indeed most average earners, to accrue enough savings for a dignified retirement.
- Remove the $450 monthly pay threshold which sees an estimated 220,000 women miss out on super every year. Make sure that super is paid on paid parental leave – making it no different from other types of leave.
- Measure the impact any future changes to super would have on women.