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Retirement

Failure to pay super on parental leave has cost Australian women $1.6bn

  • September 17 2021
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Retirement

Failure to pay super on parental leave has cost Australian women $1.6bn

By Fergus Halliday
September 17 2021

Superannuation isn’t guaranteed when it comes to paid parental leave, and it’s costing Aussie mums thousands in potential retirements savings.

parental leave

Failure to pay super on parental leave has cost Australian women $1.6bn

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  • September 17 2021
  • Share

Superannuation isn’t guaranteed when it comes to paid parental leave, and it’s costing Aussie mums thousands in potential retirements savings.

parental leave

Australian mums are paying the price for the government’s failure to lead by example when it comes to parental leave and superannuation.

According to a new report by Industry Super Australia (ISA), Australian mums are the biggest victims of the government’s failure to include a superannuation guarantee within its own paid parental leave scheme.

Unlike most other forms of paid leave, parental leave does not explicitly require employers to contribute towards superannuation. It’s up to the employer to determine whether they want to.

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“In Australia today, far too many women and men do not have access to paid parental leave which includes superannuation payments. This is having a detrimental financial impact on families, especially women, and is impeding our country’s economic growth,” explained Workplace Gender Equality Agency director Libby Lyons.

ISA said that less than 7 per cent of enterprise agreements include this provision, and the government’s own Commonwealth parental leave pay scheme isn’t among them.

Ms Lyons said that many businesses are already paying superannuation on parental leave, but the government is missing out on the opportunity to lead by example in the area.

ISA reports suggested that as many as 1.45 million Australians who received Commonwealth parental leave pay over the past 10 years may have sacrificed thousands in individual retirement savings.

Cumulatively, the report estimated that the amount of superannuation lost here was around $1.4 billion.

“We must stop penalising Australian women and men for having children,” Ms Lyons said.

ISA said that in the 2019–2020 financial year, approximately 170,000 women took parental leave. Added up, this worked out to around $216.7 million in missed super payments.

The report added that those affected by the omission of a superannuation guarantee in the Commonwealth parental leave pay scheme are overwhelmingly female, with women accounting for 99.5 per cent of recipients.

“Unless the federal government acts, millions of women will continue to pay a price for taking time out of the paid workforce to raise a family, missing out on super and ending up with thousands less at retirement,” ISA advocacy director Georgia Brumby warned.

ISA said that even a modest super payment linked to the 18-month paid parental leave scheme could play an important role as an equity measure to ensure women’s savings keep pace with that of their male counterparts.

“This is an opportunity for the Prime Minister and governments of all levels to lead the way and ensure super is paid on parental leave. Otherwise, we’ll continue to see too many women retire into poverty,” Ms Brumby said.

Failure to pay super on parental leave has cost Australian women $1.6bn
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About the author

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Fergus is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He likes to write about money, markets, how innovation is changing the financial landscape and how younger consumers can achieve their goals in unpredictable times. 

About the author

author image
Fergus Halliday

Fergus is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He likes to write about money, markets, how innovation is changing the financial landscape and how younger consumers can achieve their goals in unpredictable times. 

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