24 February 2020

Laws passed to reunite Australians with their unpaid super

Today, the Parliament passed legislation to reunite Australians with superannuation they are owed but have not been paid.

The Morrison Government is implementing a one-off amnesty for historical underpayment of superannuation. The Treasury Laws Amendment (Recovering Unpaid Superannuation) Bill 2019 incentivises employers to come forward and do the right thing by their employees – by paying any unpaid superannuation in full.

‘This policy is all about reuniting hardworking Australians with their super,’ Assistant Minister Jane Hume said. ‘We anticipate at least $160 million of super will be paid to Australian workers who would otherwise miss out.’

‘Since the one-off amnesty was originally announced back in 2018, over 7,000 employers have already come forward to voluntarily disclose historical unpaid super,’ Assistant Minister Hume said. ‘We estimate an additional 7,000 employers will come forward in the next six months before the amnesty ends.

Employers will not be off the hook. To use the amnesty, they must still pay all that is owing to their employees, including the high rate of interest. However, the amnesty will make it easier for workers to secure the super they are owed by not hitting employers with the penalties usually associated with late payment.

If employers do not take advantage of the amnesty, they will now face significantly higher penalties when they are caught – in general, a minimum 100 per cent penalty on top of the SG shortfall they owe, and up to 200 per cent for the most serious cases. In addition, throughout the amnesty period the ATO will still continue its usual audit and enforcement activity against employers for historical obligations they do not own up to voluntarily.

The Amnesty will expire six months after the day the Bill receives Royal Assent.

The amnesty complements recent changes to the superannuation system to improve the visibility employees have over their superannuation. These changes have given the ATO greater powers to ensure employers do the right thing, and help ensure employees receive their superannuation entitlements. The Government’s legislated package of integrity measures – part of Treasury Laws Amendment (2018 Measures No. 4) Act 2019 – includes up to 12 months jail for employers who continue to do the wrong thing by their workers, and gives the ATO near real-time visibility of how much SG employees are owed and the contributions they actually receive.

‘We encourage employers to check they don’t owe outstanding super – and if they do, to take advantage of this once-only opportunity to set things right before much tougher penalties apply,’ Assistant Minister Hume said.

Together, these measures reflect the Morrison Government’s ongoing commitment to reuniting Australians with lost and unpaid super.