Government cracks down on employers not paying super for workers

SBS World News Radio: The federal government is targeting employers who aren't paying their workers their full compulsory superannuation entitlements.

Government cracks down on employers not paying super for workers

Government cracks down on employers not paying super for workers

Analysis by the Australian Taxation Office has found workers could have missed out on $2.85 billion of superannuation during the 2014/15 financial year because their employers didn't make the payments, despite being legally required to do so.

Federal Financial Services Minister Kelly O'Dwyer says employers deliberately not paying their workers' super entitlements are "robbing" their staff of wages.

"It means that workers who have been denied their superannuation entitlements can be reassured that the government is cracking down on unscrupulous employers. The government is giving the Australian Taxation Office additional powers to make sure workers' entitlements are fully paid. The ATO will be able to recover more from dodgy directors, they will be able to take security bonds over their properties and assets for those employers who are doing the wrong thing by their employees."

The government is providing additional funding to the tax office for a Superannuation Task Force to chase employer non-compliance.

At the same time, there'll be legislation to close a legal loophole used by some employers to short-change employees who make salary-sacrifice contributions to their superannuation.

Minister O'Dwyer says the Super funds will also have to change the way they report to their members.

"We'll also be able to make sure that through the Task Force, when payments haven't been made - because there is going to be more frequent reporting by funds, those employees will be notified - they will know that they haven't been paid their rightful superannuation entitlements and they'll be able to pursue that, as will the Australian Taxation Office."

The government is also aiming to make employers pay monthly so the ATO can more quickly identify non-compliance.

The package aims to simplify employer payments, while giving the ATO the ability to seek court-order penalties where employers are caught repeatedly failing in their super obligations.

The ATO analysis found the gap between the amount employers were required to pay and their actual contribution is estimated to be 5.2 per cent of the $54.78 billion of superannuation guarantee obligations.

The ATO's Deputy Commissioner is James O'Halloran.

He's encouraging people to report any non-payment to the ATO, which follows up every report of possible non-payment of superannuation from employers or former employers.

"We get about 20,000 reports a year and we act on every one of those to try and recover any outstanding superannuation guaranteed. The main thing is that any level of non-compliance is important because there are people at the end of the Superannuation Guarantee Entitlement. So it's not always about the scale, it's just each and every non-payment is a real concern to us and should be to the community."

But small businesses are saying more needs to be done to lower the financial burdens imposed on small business owners.

David Bitton is the managing director of the Bitton Gourmet Cafe and Grocer in Sydney.

"Most of the impact is on the cashflow because it is paid quarterly, so it's often late and our business is seasonal so if we have a slow week the payout is the same, we have full-time employees so it's something the government needs to look at - between the GST, the superannuation and the workers' compensation we get hit everywhere. It's no wonder so many businesses go bankrupt. It's no surprise."



4 min read
Published 29 August 2017 at 6:00pm
By Peggy Giakoumelos, Laurie Lawira