Superannuation for Women

It’s no secret that the median super balance for Australian women at the time of retirement is significantly lower than that of their male counterparts. The Australian Commission & Investments Commission (ASIC) have reported that men retire with about twice the amount as women. The discrepancy is reportedly even higher between Mums and Dads. Between lower wages and a higher likelihood of having an interrupted working life for women, women also tend to live longer and thus require more super to cover more years. Unfortunately, between personal finances, business financial capabilities, and governmental policies, actions to close this gap can be limited. Where possible, what can people and businesses do to assist?

Where viable, private companies can consider:

  • continuing paying superannuation to staff during parental leave.
  • paying full-time super benefits to part-time parents. This has already been implemented by Viva Energy (a Shell subsidiary). From the ABS, women are much more likely to be working part-time than men.
  • increasing the percentage of base salary put toward their employees’ super accounts.

Employees can consider the following:

  • If you have more than one super account, look to consolidate them into one low-fee member-focused superfund. When comparing your active super accounts, be sure to assess termination fees, insurance policies, investment options, and ongoing service fees.
  • Where possible, make super contributions out of pocket (non-concessional super contributions). According to ASIC, they are not subject to the 15% contributions tax that is applied to other types of contributions. Further, if you earn less than $52,697 per year (before tax) you are eligible for government co-contribution. Depending on your income, this could translate to a 50c contribution from the government up to $500 for every $1 of non-concessional contribution.
  • Where possible, consider salary sacrifice to super as an additional concessional contribution, whereby this strategy can be tax-effective if you earn more than $37 000. Depending on your income and preferences, a combination of both concessional and non-concessional contributions may be optimal.
  • If you have a partner, he or she may be able to help grow your super by making a ‘Spouse Contribution’ to your super account or consider if contribution splitting is viable for you.

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