Regardless of your age or experience, if you’re a member of the workforce in Australia then it is crucial that you understand what you are and aren’t entitled to in terms of superannuation. Employing casual employees is greatly beneficial to businesses for a number of reasons, but unfortunately, there are many businesses that try to take advantage of your labour.
There are plenty of them that will try to get away with not paying their casual employees superannuation. So it’s important to be aware of your superannuation and monitor it closely. This article will go through everything a casual worker needs to know about superannuation.
Results shown below are based on a average super balance of up to $55,000 for a policy holder aged 18-29, sorted by annual cost (lowest to highest).
Annual cost includes administration fees and indirect costs (including the investment fee, performance fee where applicable, and any other indirect management costs).
This cost is calculated based on the average super balance specified and the investment option considered in the 2016 Superannuation Star Ratings, which is the option with 60-80% in growth assets; *where multiple options satisfy this criteria, the option with 60-80% in growth assets with the greatest funds under management is selected.
The Superannuation Guarantee
The Superannuation Guarantee is a compulsory system of superannuation support for employees that was first introduced in 1992. It has gone through multiple changes since then, but at the time of writing, the SG scheme decrees that employers must make a compulsory 9.5% superannuation contribution in an employee’s choice of super fund.
This 9.5% is based on your yearly ordinary time earnings, which doesn’t factor in overtime. What it does include however are the following:
- Over-award payments
- Agreed-upon rate per task completed
- Performance bonuses
- Christmas bonus
- Annual leave
- Termination payments in lieu of notice
Most of these don’t apply to casual employees, but it will be useful to know for when you land a full-time or part-time job.
Superannuation for casual employees
Casual employees do get super, and it really isn’t any different to super for full-time employees, with only a few minor differences. The SG scheme applies to all employees, regardless of whether they are full-time, part-time or casually employed. It also applies to contractors and even temporary Australian residents.
For casual workers, the normal 9.5% rule applies if:
- You’re over the age of 18 and earn more than $450 (before tax) in a single calendar month
- You’re under 18 and work for more than 30 hours a week, while still earning $450+
Case study: Lindsay gets a summer job
Lindsay, 17, finished his TAFE studies for the year in November and decided to get a job working in a large department store until the end of December. During the busy period leading up to Christmas, he worked every day.
As he earnt more than $450 a month and worked more than 30 hours per week, Lindsay checked with the payroll manager that he was being paid the super he was entitled to.
Lindsay ended up getting $250 put into his super fund, which will grow over time as he continues working.
Source: ASIC’s MoneySmart.
If you’re over 18 and earn less than this threshold or are under 18 and work less than 30 hours in a week, then you aren’t entitled to any superannuation and your employer does not have to make any contributions.
There are also several things you should be aware of when it comes to signing up for/receiving super:
- Your employer should offer a choice of super funds, often their own standard fund or one of your choosing
- You should be presented with a standard choice form when choosing a super fund or starting a new job
- Your employer should not attempt to sway or influence your choice of super fund
- While most employers make your super contributions every fortnight, you must be paid at least quarterly, by the 28th day after the end of each quarter
- By default, life insurance is automatically included in every new super account set up in your name. THIS IS NOT FREE. As a casual employee, consider whether you really need to be paying for life insurance at your current life stage. Research has found that paying for life insurance through super can take up to $600,000 off your final retirement figure.
There is also the conundrum of switching jobs and super funds. If you’re young and have moved between casual roles, then chances are you may have ended up with multiple different super funds, which isn’t optimal, as your super balance will diminish without regular payments.
According to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), 45% of the workforce was unaware of holding multiple super accounts in 2016! That’s 6.3 million people! You can solve this problem by consolidating your super funds.
If you’re a young casual employee, then some of the following super funds might be right for you.
Performance is based on the investment option considered in the 2016 Superannuation Star Ratings, which is the option with 60-80% in growth assets; where multiple options satisfy this criteria, the option with 60-80% in growth assets with the greatest funds under management is selected.
What if my employer isn’t paying me super?
It’s important to know your rights as an employee when it comes to super, and you should monitor your super account and payslips to ensure that you’re being paid correctly and on time.
If your employer isn’t paying the minimum amount of Super Guarantee by the correct date and amount, then you are encouraged to raise the issue with them first. You can ask them how often they’re paying your super and which funds they’re paying it into. It’s entirely possible that there has been a mistake and that they’ve sent your super to the wrong account or that your new working hours haven’t been recorded.
If however, they are still refusing to pay your super, then you can lodge complaints with the following organisations:
The Australian Workers’ Union
Phone: 1300 885 653
Fax: (02) 8005 3300
Address: Level 10 377-383, Sussex Street Sydney, NSW 2000
The Australian Taxation Office
Phone: 13 28 65
The Fair Work Commission
Phone: 1300 799 675
Superannuation hotline: 13 10 20
Address: visit one of their several commission offices https://www.fwc.gov.au/disputes-at-work/how-the-commission-works/commission-offices
Never think that you aren’t entitled to superannuation as a casual employee. Your time is valuable, and you should receive superannuation payments for this time in addition to your income. While it might only seem like a few hundred dollars here and there at the moment, retired – you will thank current-you for ensuring your super is being paid correctly and on time.