Carers, women on maternity leave should receive taxpayer-funded super: Actuaries

by pregnancy journalist

Women pushed out of paid work to care for children, ageing parents and disabled family members should be given taxpayer-funded superannuation payments to close the gender retirement gap, according to analysts suggesting a raft of changes for the federal budget.

Actuaries are pushing to extend the 9.5 per cent super guarantee to unpaid carers following warnings from industry super funds that millions of low and middle-income earners, particularly women, are at risk of insecure retirements that have been masked by optimistic Treasury forecasts of super savings.

Giving carers a superannuation payment could help improve the gender retirement gap.Credit:Shutterstock

A report from Mercer and Rice Warner, to be released at the Actuaries Institute Summit on Thursday, suggests the government remove the current $450 minimum monthly earning threshold workers must reach to receive superannuation payments, require employers to pay super on all paid parental leave and provide super or pension credits for carers.

The federal budget will be handed down on May 11 and is expected to include billions of dollars in spending measures to help women financially following a firestorm of criticism over the federal government’s handling of gender issues. A spokesman for Superannuation Minister Jane Hume, who is also Minister for Women’s Economic Security, declined to comment on “budget speculation”.

The lobby group’s report is part of its campaign against any change to the legislated plan for the super guarantee to rise to 10 per cent of incomes in July then by 0.5 per cent increments to reach 12 per cent by 2025. It is a direct challenge to the findings of the federal government’s Retirement Income Review, which found most retiring workers would have up to 84 per cent of their working income without lifting the rate.

Industry Super says the review, led by former Treasury deputy secretary Mike Callaghan, failed to consider the unevenness of modern working life where breaks from the workforce were common, especially for women and young people, and not all workers could afford to voluntarily top-up their super. But Mr Callaghan denied these claims on Wednesday, saying the review considered a wide range of scenarios including couples living together and periods out of work for men and women.

The Callaghan review found increasing the super guarantee benefits men more than women and noted the median superannuation balance gap between men and women aged 60 to 64 was 22 per cent. This was due to lower wages, career breaks for caring responsibilities and more part-time work.

Mr Callaghan said Industry Super had made several inaccurate claims about the review’s 648-page research report. “I wouldn’t waste my time with it,” he said.

Mr Knox said modelling should always be looked at with a degree of flexibility, noting many people do not have steady work for decades due to child-rearing, sickness and periods of unemployment.

This content was originally published here.

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