24 May 2018
Media Release - #2018056, 2018

In the role of: Minister for Revenue and Financial Services [19 July 2016 - 28 August 2018]

Tackling non-payment of workers’ superannuation

The Turnbull Government is continuing to take action to ensure Australian workers are paid the superannuation entitlements that they are owed.

Today the Turnbull Government introduced legislation to complement the sweeping superannuation guarantee (SG) integrity package already before Parliament by introducing a one‑off, twelve month amnesty for historical underpayment of SG.

The Bill incentivises employers to come forward and do the right thing by their employees by paying any unpaid superannuation in full.

Employers will not be off the hook – to use the amnesty they must pay all that is owing to their employees, including the high rate of nominal interest. However, the amnesty will make it easier to secure outstanding employee entitlements, by setting aside the penalties for late payment that are normally paid to the Government by employers.

Employers that do not take advantage of the one-off amnesty will face higher penalties when they are subsequently caught – in general, a minimum 50 per cent on top of the SG Charge they owe. In addition, throughout the amnesty period the ATO will still continue its usual enforcement activity against employers for those historical obligations they don't own up to voluntarily.

"The ATO estimates that in 2014-15, around $2.85 billion in SG payments went unpaid," Minister O'Dwyer said.

"While this represents a 95 per cent compliance rate, any level of non-compliance is unacceptable, which is why the Turnbull Government is giving the ATO the tools it needs to enforce compliance going forward."

"We are introducing this one-off amnesty to allow employers to wipe the slate clean and pay their workers what they're owed. All Australians workers should be paid the entitlements they are owed."

The amnesty will run for twelve months from today.

Today's announcement builds on the Government's package of reforms to protect workers' superannuation entitlements by:

  • Giving the ATO the ability to seek court-ordered penalties in cases where employers defy directions to pay their superannuation guarantee liabilities, including up to 12 months jail in the most egregious cases of non-payment;
  • Requiring superannuation funds to report contributions received more frequently, at least monthly, to the ATO. This will enable the ATO to identify non-compliance and take prompt action;
  • Bringing payroll reporting into the 21st century through the rollout of Single Touch Payroll (STP). Employers with 20 or more employees will transition to STP from 1 July 2018 with smaller employers coming on board from 1 July 2019. This will reduce the regulatory burden on business and transform compliance by aligning payroll functions with regular reporting of taxation and superannuation obligations; and
  • Improving the effectiveness of the ATO's recovery powers, including strengthening director penalty notices and use of security bonds for high-risk employers, to ensure that unpaid superannuation is better collected by the ATO and paid to employees' super accounts.

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Superannuation 2018 Measures) Bill 2018 also includes measures to streamline the SG system and support the integrity of superannuation tax system.

The Bill will allow employees with more than one employer to avoid inadvertent breaches of their concessional contribution cap from compulsory contributions by applying to the ATO for an exemption certificate for some of their employers.

The Bill will also ensure that the cap on tax-free retirement phase assets cannot be circumvented through the use of non-arm's length expenditure or certain strategies using limited recourse borrowing arrangements (LRBAs).

Together, these measures reflect the Turnbull Government's ongoing commitment to a fair and sustainable superannuation system that delivers for all Australians.

After all, your super is your money.