HESTA takes up the fight for women’s super savings – editorial

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Women tend to retire with just over half the super of men*. HESTA is fighting to change that, and not only because 80 percent of HESTA members are women. HESTA was founded on one simple principle: your work is some of the most valuable in Australia — so your life after work should reward you for it.

For many women across Australia, fair reward for a lifetime of work just does not happen. Broken work patterns, part-time work and multiple employers mean women are likely to retire with less super than their male workmates. This is hard to believe in 2018, and even harder to witness.

HESTA welcomed the 2016 Senate Inquiry into women's economic security in retirement – and made one of the first submissions. It outlines their vision for a better future for HESTA members, and women across Australia.

What HESTA is fighting for:

Super for everyone.

Workers who earn less than $450 per month from one employer do not receive any super. Which has more adverse impacts for women.

“The $450 threshold is one of the super system settings that perpetuates ongoing inequity,” HESTA CEO Debby Blakey says.

“Women, particularly those working in health and community services, can often work in more than one part-time role. Their salary from each employer can fall under the $450 per month super threshold, resulting in these women being totally excluded from super,” she said.

HESTA asked for an end to the $450 barrier - and a fair deal for low income and part-time workers.

Closing the gender pay gap

The main reason for the super gap is the gender pay gap – which in health and community services was 27 per cent in 2017.** That is a lot less super going into women’s accounts each month than into their male colleagues’.

Add (or subtract) time out of the workforce to care for others, and you are looking at more of a gulf than a gap.

“The super gap women experience is not due to the choices they make – the main causes are the gender pay gap that sees women earning less than their male counterparts and unpaid time out of the workforce,” Ms Blakey points out.

HESTA wants to change the super system so women can perform these roles and not be penalised when they retire. It’s another step towards equal pay.

Reward caring roles

Many women are full-time unpaid carers – missing out on super completely. HESTA recommended the government looks at overseas systems that reward carers fairly for their essential work.

Clearing the first hurdle

The Senate Inquiry’s findings included many of HESTA's recommendations to help improve retirement outcomes for women.

In September 2017 HESTA were delighted to see a Bill introduced into Federal Parliament to abolish the $450 super threshold, and align Super Guarantee payments with wages.

Ms Blakey is urging Parliament to consider the Bill, saying action is needed now to address unpaid super and the $450 super threshold.

HESTA is fighting hard for your tomorrow. But here is what you can do today:

Top up your super

You have heard it all before – but we really cannot stress this enough. Super is likely to be your second biggest investment after your home. Adding even five dollars a week could translate to a lot more in your pocket later. Take 30 seconds to see what that actually looks like at hesta.com.au/calculators

Consolidate your accounts

Got several funds on the go? Think about rolling them into one, so you are not paying more fees than you need to.

Make a one-off payment

Tax return a bit bigger than expected? Think about putting some into super – you might miss it at first, but it could buy a lot more when you finish work.

Read more ideas on how to boost your super.

HESTA is APHA's Diamond Sponsor. This material is supplied.

* Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS); Retirement and Retirement Intentions, Australia, July 2012 to June 2013; abs.gov.au/ausstats/ abs@.nsf/mf/6238.0

**BCEC WGEA Gender Pay Equity Insights 2017 Report

Issued by H.E.S.T. Australia Ltd ABN 66 006 818 695 AFSL 235249, the Trustee of Health Employees Superannuation Trust Australia ABN 64 971 749 321 (HESTA). This information is of a general nature. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or specific needs so you should look at your own financial position and requirements before making a decision. You may wish to consult an adviser when doing this. Before making a decision about HESTA products you should read the relevant product disclosure statement (call 1800 813 327 or visit hesta.com.au for a copy), and consider any relevant risks (hesta.com.au/understandingrisk)

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