Companies to pay back $588m in unpaid super
Underpaid workers will be handed back more than half a billion dollars in superannuation payments that they were dudded by their employers.
New Australian Taxation Office figures released on Monday found about 24,000 employers have come forward and disclosed they would be giving back $588 million of unpaid or underpaid superannuation to employees.
Around 393,000 employees will benefit from the initiative which will see the money paid directly into their super funds or if they are no longer working, into their applicable bank accounts.
Under the Federal Government's superannuation guarantee amnesty there was a one-off opportunity for employers to come forward in the last six months to the ATO and fess up that they have incorrectly paid their workers.
Assistant Minister for Superannuation, Financial Services and Financial Technology Senator Jane Hume said the amnesty was "reuniting Australians with money that is rightfully theirs, making sure every dollars that is owed to workers goes back to them".
"We know that in the past calculating the super guarantee has been very complicated," she said.
"The Superannuation Amnesty prompted honest businesses to take a look back through their records and check they'd done the right thing by their employees."
The unpaid or underpaid amounts could date back as far as 1992 when compulsory super was introduced in Australia.
Among the money being handed back is about $440 million which has been transferred to super funds including $132 million in late payment offsets and 10 per cent for each year the payment was outstanding.
Another $33 million is subject to agreed payment plans.
The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees' head of advocacy Melissa Birks said while it was "good" to see workers reunited with their money, "the amount paid unfortunately is a drop in the ocean".
"Unpaid super amounts to theft and is estimated to cost workers more than $3 billion a year," she said.
"Harsh penalties should apply to all employers who fail to pass on super entitlements to workers when they are due."
Compulsory super payments are legislated to rise from 9.5 per cent to 10 per cent in July next year and up to 12 per cent by 2025.
The increases have become a contentious issue particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic hit and has caused widespread political debate as to whether they should still go ahead.
The Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe said lifting the super guarantee from the current 9.5 per cent would result in reduced wages, cut consumer spend and could cost jobs.
Originally published as $588m payday: Underpaid workers to receive massive windfall