Thursday, 5 January 2017

Next time a man tells you that there is a level playing field.........

Many older Australian women alive today reached retirement age without any superannuation savings. Some will still do so into the future if they have predominately engaged in unpaid work during most of their working-age life.

Superannuation was first paid in the mid‑1800s as a benefit to certain employees in the public service and larger corporate organisations. Invitation to join what were then a limited number of superannuation schemes was predominately restricted to males at professional/managerial level. Full benefits upon retirement could be taken as a lump sum. By 1915 super earnings were exempt from taxation [].

As recently as the late 1960s women often faced an employment bar on marriage and/or once wed were forced to withdraw from any superannuation scheme they may have had the good fortune to be previously eligible for. [Paxton, JA, July 2014, Women and Superannuation: The Impact of the Family Law Superannuation Regime, p.23]

Superannuation was fairly uncommon in Australia until the 1970s, when it began to be included in industrial awards.

In 1985, only 39 per cent of the workforce had superannuation—24 per cent of women and 50 per cent of men had access to super.
At that stage, superannuation coverage was concentrated in higher paid white collar positions in large corporations and, in the public sector.

Superannuation became a major component of Australia's retirement system following the introduction of the Superannuation Guarantee in 1992. The Superannuation Guarantee requires employers to contribute a percentage of an employee's earnings into a superannuation fund, which the employee cannot access until they reach the superannuation preservation age. For most employees, superannuation coverage expanded following the introduction of compulsory superannuation.

In 1993, 81 per cent of employed Australians were covered by superannuation and the gender gap in superannuation coverage had narrowed, with 82 per cent of employed men and 78 per cent of employed women covered by superannuation. The employer contribution rate has increased over time, from 3 per cent in 1992 to the current rate of 9.5 per cent. 
[Economics References Committee, April 2016, 'A husband is not a retirement plan': Achieving economic security for women in retirement, p.6]

The superannuation industry, including the Commonwealth's defined benefit funds, may prefer to forget past practices. There was a time when women were forced to leave their super fund on marriage and, as a result, were deprived of unvested benefits. The winners then were long-term (usually permanent) employees, predominantly male, who reaped their full entitlements on retirement……
It wasn't too long ago that during a family breakdown, women who sacrificed a career to bring up a family were unable to access their partner's vested super benefits. Family law changes now allow women to access a fair share of their former partner's superannuation.  [The Sydney Morning Herald, 6 March 2016]

The table below shows the disparity between men's and women's superannuation balances over time across all age groups.

[Economics References Committee, April 2016, 'A husband is not a retirement plan': Achieving economic security for women in retirement, p.9]

No comments: