I have stupidly been making my own paltry little voluntary contributions to my super fund by having them automatically transferred from my account after payday. Yesterday, while quietly inquiring whether I could be paid $7 less and thus forgo paying HECS (my ultimate goal being to die with my HECs debt intact), WorkL and I got on to the topic of super and salary sacrifice. Of course, all this time I should have been making my paltry voluntary contributions from my wages before tax so my wages are subject to less income tax and (possibly) HECs. Anyway, ignore the HECs angle for a bit – my whinge is about UniSuper, my esteemed superannuation company.
Because I work part time, my super contributions aren’t that much. You would assume that UniSuper would be gagging for contributions, no matter how small. But no. I can’t even deposit a voluntary contribution unless it is over
$80 [I have just called them and it has been lowered to $50 – better, but not great]. So instead of depositing $20 a week directly into my super account, I have been putting it aside for a month until it adds up to $80 and can then be deposited.
Now this is a pain in the arse for me, but I have got around it by wily setups of automatic transfers. But it is one thing for me to do that, and another to expect my employer to bother with it. It’s apparently fairly rare for casual employees to be allowed to have before-tax salary sacrifice set up, so they are already being very accommodating. Now I have to tell them that not only do they have to put it aside until it adds up to a minimum of before they can transfer it, but each time they make a deposit they have to FAX UniSuper to LET THEM KNOW what portion of the super they have deposited is my voluntary contribution. I’m sorry, but aren’t we in 2007?
WorkL tells me that the other super funds she deals with not only don’t have a “$50 minimum deposit limit” but what happens is this: you have your primary super account into which your mandatory employer contributions go, and then you have a secondary account into which your voluntary contributions go i.e. each account has a different number – thus ensuring that no one needs to be faxed about what is mandatory and what is voluntary. So simple. And yet, when I spelled this out to the poor customer service robot on the other end of the phone, he spluttered at me and said he’d never heard of such a thing. Losers. Surely this is a form of low-income discrimination? I am female, which means statistically, as far as superannuation goes, I am already at a disadvantage – why do they have to make it even HARDER? Gah.
UPDATE: Well. I was dwelling deleting all of the above, but it serves to show that if customer service agents are representing your company, then maybe they should actually KNOW what they’re talking about. With a bit more digging, and more reliance on their website rather than someone on the other end of a phone, it turns out, rather obviously in retrospect, that there are two BPAY codes – one for employers contributions, and one for voluntary contributions – both of these go into the same account. Good. Because there was no way that my employer was going to FAX them every time a contribution was made. UniSuper, you’re not as hopeless as I thought – but it would be better if you lowered your minimum BPay voluntary deposit amount to, say, $10. I’m sure you can afford it.
In Australia’s occupation-linked system of superannuation, women accumulate considerably less retirement savings than men. A complex array of constraints impacts upon the retirement savings options of women, and their opportunities for financially independent and comfortable retirement lifestyles. Such constraints are broadly summarised as: industrial, institutional, legal/political, social/cultural, and attitudinal. Moreover, these problems are not confined to Australia – many other countries have identified similar problems (Schulz, 2002).
Prior to the introduction of Award-based superannuation in 1985, those accumulating retirement savings in superannuation were primarily male, white collar professional or management employees, usually in public sector employment (Olsberg, 1997). Female employees were particularly disadvantaged. In many companies – even in some sectors of government employment – explicit forms of discrimination existed. In some cases, women were not entitled to superannuation simply on the basis of gender. They experienced longer eligibility periods for entitlement than male employees, and in some cases married women
were not entitled to superannuation. In 1985 only 24 per cent of women in paid work had superannuation benefits – compared to 50 per cent of male workers (ABS, 6361.0, 2000). Diana Olsberg in Journal of Australian Political Economy, Ed.53