Australia enforces payment of workers’ superannuation

The Australian Taxation Office will penalise employers who fail to pay workers' superannuation after delaying its enforcement due to the pandemic.
By: | February 24, 2022

Emma Rosenzweig, deputy commissioner of superannuation at the Australian Tax Office (ATO), told Parliament that the agency can make a direction to employers to pay workers in cases of unlawful underpayment of superannuation.

If employers do not pay workers their superannuation entitlements, ATO can hit the former with hefty penalties and take action that could result in jail time.

Rosenzweig said the ATO had held back forcefully using these powers due to the impact the pandemic was having on businesses. “We’ve obviously still been working with businesses through the impacts of the pandemic,” she said.

“We’ve talked about the fact that we have not aggressively pursued debt collection. And we’ve been trying to work to support businesses, to sustain them through the pandemic. I guess we’ve sort of had a bit of a delay before we really think it’s appropriate to start pulling them out as one of the tools in our kit,” she added.

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Data from Industry Super Australia show that almost 3 million Australian employees missed out on A$5 billion (US$3.6 billion) in employer super contributions in 2018-2019.

This translates to unpaid super affecting more than a quarter of employees, costing each affected worker an average of A$1,700 (US$1,226) per year, according to ABC News.