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Aussies working these jobs could retire with up to $35,000 less

Aussies working in female-dominated industries could retire with significantly less.

A composite image of Australian money and a crowd of people walking at Bondi Beach in Sydney to represent retirement savings.
Aussies who work in female-dominated industries are missing out on retirement savings. (Source: AAP) (AAP)

Around 1 million Australian women have missed out on more than $1.3 billion in superannuation contributions they were owed in a year, new research has found.

In female dominated industries like childcare, aged care, hospitality and personal services, around a quarter of female workers have suffered super underpayments.

Industry Super Australia (ISA) research found these underpayments have cost those workers up to $40,000 from their retirement nest egg. For some women, this is the equivalent of almost 10 per cent of their savings.

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The analysis of the 2019-20 tax file found one in five women were underpaid super. The “super swindle” cost women a staggering $10.8 billion over seven years, ISA said.

Younger women on lower incomes were greatly impacted – almost 40 per cent of women in their 20s earning less than $25,000 were short-changed. On average this cohort missed out on $570 a year, the research found.

ISA found a 1990s era law that allowed super to be paid quarterly was contributing to the unpaid super scourge.

Modernising the law so that super is paid on payday would make it easier for workers to keep track of payments, drastically reducing the prevalence of unpaid super, the report found.

ISA advocacy director Georgia Brumby said unpaid super was depriving women of the chance to save for a financially secure future.

“It is a crushing financial blow that many women – who are still retiring with a third less super than men – won’t recover from and can wipe out 10 per cent of their savings,” Brumby said.

“Aligning payment of super and wages is the right thing to do by workers, boosts government revenue, lifts investment returns and puts all employers on a level playing field.”

“Paying super on payday will help women claw back more super now, while the government is unable to commit to other equity measures like paying super on paid parental leave.”

Industries most affected by unpaid super

Projected impacts of unpaid super on selected female-dominated occupations

Occupation

Retirement savings

Lifetime disposable income

Age Pension expenditure

Aged care worker

-$35,200

-$28,400

$15,100

Childcare worker

-$34,700

-$28,300

$14,600

Enrolled nurse

-$43,900

-$28,200

$26,000

Hospitality worker

-$28,600

-$28,000

$7,300

Personal assistant

-$37,400

-$22,800

$23,400

Sales assistant

-$29,300

-$28,600

$7,700

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