Your Super Needs Your Attention

  • 11 January 2023

Retirement may seem a long way down the track but the money you need to have for a decent retirement cannot be accumulated overnight.  We’re always paying attention to our wages: how much comes into our bank account and when, making sure we’re getting decent pay increases each year and saving up where we can.  But it’s rare we give our superannuation the same attention. It’s time to change that.  It pays – literally – to get on top of your super sooner rather than later.  

In four steps let’s start with the basics

1. Avoid doubling up on fees
It is easy to accumulate more than one superannuation account – sometimes even with the same super fund.
Often this happens when you start a new job and instead of providing your existing account details, you sign up for a new account as part of the paperwork you do when starting a new role.
But multiple accounts will only drag you down.
If you have more than one account, that often means you’re paying unnecessary fees.
A good way of consolidating your super is to go to your industry super funds’ website and get them to do it for you.
You can also check through your MyGov to see if there’s more than one account in your name and under your tax file number.

2. Learn about default industry super funds
A big part of why unions fought for superannuation is to ensure that superannuation funds, and the services they provide, are suited to your industry.
If you have joined a new workplace, there’s a good chance that your default fund is an industry super fund.  In the Victorian Public Service and its associated agencies, the Enterprise Agreement contains a fund clause which stipulates the (a) Employer’s default superannuation fund which was VicSuper, now Aware Super; or (b) any superannuation fund to which the Employer was making superannuation contributions for the benefit of its Employees before 12 September 2008, provided the superannuation fund is an eligible choice fund and is a fund that offers a MySuper product or is an exempt public sector superannuation scheme; or (c) a superannuation fund or scheme which the Employee is a defined benefit member of.
Most industry super funds work with Industry Fund Services to proactively identify and recover unpaid super from bosses who haven’t paid or if the employer goes through insolvency.

3. Bargain for better super
A big part of being in a union and getting a better deal for workers is negotiating an enterprise agreement and bargaining for super.  
Everyday workers and their unions are bargaining for a better deal for their retirement by winning; Superannuation on parental leave, Superannuation on all wages, not just on ordinary time earnings, Super paid at a higher rate than the minimum, Insurance subsidies for high-risk workers, and Superannuation paid into their industry super fund.

4. Decide if you want to contribute to your super via salary sacrifice
Thanks to the Superannuation Guarantee, all employers in Australia must provide contributions to your super.
From 1 July 2022 the superannuation guarantee rate increased to 10.5%.  This was an increase of 0.5%.  The super rate is due to increase a further 0.5% each year until it reaches 12% in 2025.
If you want to make extra contributions to your super beyond what your employer provides, you can choose to salary sacrifice.
Salary sacrifice is when a certain amount from your income and transferred regularly as a pre-tax contribution into your superannuation.
These contributions are taxed at a lower rate of 15 per cent (provided you contribute less than $27,500 per year).
Your employer is the one who makes the transfer before you’re paid. So not only does salary sacrificing mean your super account is bolstered but it also reduces your taxable income.  

Union members continue to campaign for stronger superannuation laws.  In 2022, we saw an increase to the superannuation guarantee as well as the abolition of the $450 threshold. Unions are working towards 15% and can achieve this by having existing delays scrapped so the guarantee is implemented as soon as possible. Being a union member isn’t just about improving the quality of your working life – it means improving the quality of your retirement too.