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Aussie workers owed share of $4.8 billion

Billions of dollars in unpaid super are owed to Aussie workers.

A group of colleagues stand in an office chatting and laughing. A person removing Australian money from a wallet to represent unpaid superannuation.
Millions of Aussies are missing out on the correct superannuation. (Source: Getty)

The Australia Taxation Office (ATO) is cracking down on unpaid super, but industry experts say more needs to be done.

Industry Super Australia (ISA) estimated 2.9 million Aussie workers were owed $4.8 billion in unpaid super from the 2020-21 financial year. And, in the eight years to 2020-21, Australia’s gross unpaid super bill was $38 billion.

However, the ATO collected only $4.8 billion of unpaid super in the seven years to 2019-20, or about 14 per cent of the gross amount owed to hard-working Aussies.

A chart showing the amount of unpaid super Australians workers have missed out on and how much the ATO collects.
(Source: Industry Super Australia)

Have you been impacted by unpaid super? Contact reporter with your story at eliza.bavin@yahooinc.com

Industry Super Australia deputy chief executive Matt Linden told Yahoo Finance more needed to be done to recover the money.

“Tough talk from the ATO on unpaid super compliance now needs to be followed by tough action,” Linden said.

“A penalty regime is only as effective as the regulator’s willingness to enforce it and, in the case of unpaid super, the ATO has strong penalties and powers at its disposal that it has shown a historical reluctance to apply.

“The ATO dismally only recovers about 15 per cent of unpaid super in a year and, while it has shown a recent willingness to better tackle unpaid super, its compliance activity still falls well short of acting as an effective deterrent. It must better apply its powers and penalties to reduce unpaid super.”

The solution could be close

Payday super will come into effect by June 2026, which should make a difference for workers who have been underpaid super.

Linden said mandating super be paid with wages and including super in the National Employment Standards (NES) had shown that the federal government was willing to take action to reduce unpaid super.

“Payday super will dramatically reduce underpayments at the source, and including super in the NES gives workers more legal options to recover unpaid super debts,” Linden said.

“The amount of unpaid super entitlements due to insolvencies is four times larger than that of wages, so the government should also include super in the Fair Entitlements Guarantee, a legislative safety net that allows workers to claw back entitlements when a company goes bust.”

How to claim unpaid super

If your employer hasn’t paid your super correctly, you can submit a report online to the ATO.

“If possible, try to resolve your complaint by discussing it with your employer before reporting them,” the ATO said.

For example, if they've made a simple mistake in calculating your entitlement or paying it into the right fund, an open discussion might be the most effective way to sort things out and get your super back on track.”

As well as reporting your employer to the ATO, there are other ways you can try to claim unpaid super from your employer, including going to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

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