WA mums miss out on $168m in retirement savings from lost super on paid parental leave

Danielle Le MessurierThe West Australian
Industry Super Australia wants the Federal Government to pay super on its parental leave scheme.
Camera IconIndustry Super Australia wants the Federal Government to pay super on its parental leave scheme. Credit: s-c-s/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Over 150,000 WA mums missed out on more than $168 million in lost super over a decade, according to new Industry Super Australia analysis.

The peak body for the sector — which represents some of the largest super funds in the country including Australian Super, Cbus, Hesta and Hostplus — is lobbying for the Federal Government to pay super on top of its paid parental leave scheme.

It argues a failure to do so is exacerbating a significant gender pay gap. WA has the worst superannuation gender imbalance across every Australian jurisdiction, with a 38 per cent gap between the median balance of men and women across all ages.

The hidden super sting could leave a mother-of-two $14,000 worse off when it comes to retirement, according to Industry Super, while a mum who takes five years out of the workforce in their late 20s or early 30s may retire with $100,000 less.

More than 99 per cent of WA’s Commonwealth Parental Leave Pay applicants are women.

Analysis of the most recent social services and Australian Taxation Office data by Industry Super reveals 17,900 WA women missed out on almost $23m in super contributions in the 2019-20 financial year.

Women in the electorate of Pearce in Perth’s northern suburbs lost the most in the State; almost 13,000 working mums missed out on $14.6m in super payments from January 2011 to June 2020. Unless an employer pays super on leave, savings fall behind.

Fremantle placed second, with $12.7m in lost super across 11,320 applicants, followed by the electorates of Burt ($12.5m) and Brand ($12.1m).

Industry Super Australia advocacy director Georgia Brumby said it was not fair WA women were being made to sacrifice their retirement savings to have children.

“The government needs to fix this glaring inequity and take a positive step towards ending the gender super gap — otherwise we will continue to see too many women at risk of retiring into poverty,” she said.

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