Closing the gender super gap

2 March 2015

Australia's gender pay gap is set to create a disparity between the sexes when it comes to superannuation, according to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA).

With 90 per cent of women retiring with inadequate savings the advocacy body is calling on employees to give women an hour during work time to sort out their super funds in the lead up to International Women's Day on 8 March.

On average women retire with a super balance of $105,000 while men with $197,000 due to the fact that women are often in lower-paid jobs, work casually, or part-time, and take more time out of the workforce than men to look after children or family members, according to Super Guru.

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This has a direct impact on the 250,000 Australians who miss out on super due to the $450-a-month threshold for the Superannuation Guarantee where most of them are women. 

This $92,000 gap is the difference between retiring a modest lifestyle and a comfortable one, said ASFA CEO Pauline Vamos. 

"Many people in retirement want to be active. They want to travel, they want to have a healthy lifestyle so that they don't get sick. That means really eating well, travelling, keeping both the physical and mental in peak performance," she said.

"That is expected, and that is expensive. If people in retirement are comfortable they live longer, they're happier, healthier and that means they're less burdened on the healthcare system and are consumers are the future.

As progress on closing the gender pay gap is slow, Vamos said that it would be time to look at alternatives.

"Alternatives like joint accounts - but I do have concerns about that. It's also about changing public policy so that more SG is paid for women and is not seen as discriminatory," she said.

Last year in December the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Boosting Superannuation for Women) Bill 2014 was introduced into Parliament but has not gained traction since. The purpose of the bill is to allow employers to make higher superannuation contributions to women without breaching discrimination law.

"It hasn't gotten anywhere yet. It's very hard to progress as there is such a legislative backlog so we just don't know," Vamos said.

ASFA's Super Sorter Power Hour campaign encourages women to take an hour to check their super savings, finding unclaimed super, and to plan more for retirement.

"Even putting in $20 a week, that's a few cups of coffee, can make hundreds or thousands of difference to your retirement because it's over time and it is compound interest," Vamos said.

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