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New legislation to tackle unpaid super

By Jessica Penny
3 minute read

The government is working to protect more employees from “dodgy” underpayment of super contributions.

Legislation is set to be introduced into parliament this week as part of the Albanese government’s Protecting Worker Entitlements Bill, which will enshrine a right to superannuation payments in the National Employment Standards.

In a statement on Wednesday, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Tony Burke said the change would enable those not covered by a modern award or enterprise agreement that contains a right to superannuation to take direct legal action for recovery of unpaid superannuation.

“This government stands against all forms of wage theft and worker exploitation,” Minister Burke said. 


“Superannuation theft undermines the efforts of Australian workers to build a financially secure retirement.”

Treasurer Jim Chalmers reiterated the government’s sentiment in wanting to make sure Australian workers receive and benefit from the super contributions they are entitled to, which he said is part of a broader plan to ensure the super system is the “best version of itself”. 

“Our government will do everything we can to protect super and help deliver a dignified retirement to hardworking Australians,” the Treasurer added. 

Currently, workers not covered by a modern award or an enterprise agreement containing a term requiring an employer to make superannuation contributions must rely on the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to recover lost superannuation and receive their entitlements.

The ATO has estimated that workers lost $3.4 billion in unpaid super in 2019–20. The  government said that it believed the new legislation will complement the ATO’s powers, and provide additional protection for employees against unpaid super. 

“It is simply not good enough that employees are missing out on their superannuation. No employee should have their retirement incomes sabotaged by dodgy or negligent employers,” Minister Burke argued.

To this point, the Employment and Workplace Relations Minister said that the legislation will increase the number of employees who will have the right to directly pursue superannuation owed to them. Employers may also face civil penalties if they do not comply with the entitlement.

“We made an election commitment to amend the Fair Work Act to include a right to superannuation and now we are delivering for Australian workers.”

In the statement on Wednesday, Assistant Treasurer and Financial Services Minister Stephen Jones emphasised the importance of all Australian workers having access to superannuation. 

“We created superannuation, and we believe in it, that’s why the Albanese government is strengthening the superannuation system so that it is equitable, sustainable, and delivers for all Australian workers,” Minister Jones concluded.