Not all employers follow the superannuation road rules.
Not all employers follow the superannuation road rules. Frazer Pearce

Unpaid super entitlements scandal hits CQ workers

ALMOST 8,000 Rockhampton workers are being robbed of their super entitlements each year by dodgy bosses, with low income workers in blue collar jobs most likely to be missing out on their legal entitlements.

The claim is being made by Industry Super Australia in accordance with a new analysis of Tax Office data.

It revealed Rockhampton workers were among those hardest-hit, as the epidemic goes from bad to worse.

The ISA analysis of tax office data from 2016/17 by ex-treasury official Phil Gallagher revealed the extent of the problem, where employers withheld super payments to prop up their own books, robbing workers of their rightful entitlements.

More than 550,000 workers in Queensland were missing out on $1.1 billion in unpaid super - or close to $2,000 in super payments each year.

The figure amounted to 31 per cent of eligible employees, meaning Queensland was the third worst state for unpaid super behind the Northern Territory and New South Wales.

The Fitzroy employment region was one of the hotspots for unpaid super in Queensland, with 26,820 people losing an average of $1,828 each year.

Within the Fitzroy region, Rockhampton was one of the most affected areas with 7,660 workers missing out on a total of $14.9 million each year.

Nationally, the report showed, since the first ISA analysis of ATO data in 2013/14, the number of workers short-changed super had climbed by 90,000 to a total of 2.85 million Australians being ripped off $5.94 billion in super entitlements.

Industry Super Australia chief executive Bernie Dean called on local candidates and members of parliament to act on what he said could only be described as systematic exploitation.

"This should be a wake-up call for local candidates and members,” Mr Dean said.

"This is daylight robbery and it cannot continue.

"Allowing employers to continue robbing workers in Rockhampton of their super entitlement means these workers are going to end up worse off at retirement.

"While most employers do the right thing, unless we see action from the major parties this election, those dodgy employers are going to continue taking advantage of lax laws, a weak regulator and insufficient penalties to rip off these hardworking Australians.”

Mr Dean said there was a simple fix the major parties could commit to this election that would solve the problem.

"The easiest way to end this exploitation and ensure workers in Rockhampton are paid their super is to simply legislate that all employers must deposit money into a workers super account at the same time as they deposit their salary into their bank account.”

Young, low income workers were most likely to be affected, with ISA's analysis showing almost half of young adults earning under $30,000 per annum were underpaid superannuation.

The analysis also showed more than 43 per cent of labourers, machinery operators and drivers had collectively missed out on more than $800 million in 2016/17.

Combined risk factors revealed 75 percent of Australians short-changed their super contributions were aged under 35, earn under $30,000 or were in blue collar jobs.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen were contacted for comment but did not respond by deadline.

Affected areas

The top five postcodes in the Fitzory region that have been worst hit are:

Gladstone and other areas in 4680

North Rockhampton and other areas in 4701

Keppel Sands and other areas in 4702

Inverness and other areas in 4703

Rockhampton and other areas in 4700