Women seek Budget measures to address super inequity

Women are stressed about their retirement savings from taking time out of the workforce to nurture children and want Government action to address this super inequity, according to HESTA.

The study also found that around three in five HESTA members surveyed who had taken parental leave were concerned about the long-term impact this would have on their financial security as they aged and a third of these respondents said they were very or extremely concerned.

Also, nine in 10 of the more than 2,300 members surveyed agreed strongly that changes were needed in Australia’s super system to boost women’s financial security in retirement.

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HESTA, chief executive, Debby Blakey said this was effectively a financial penalty women paid and it was “unacceptable and deeply unfair”.

“It’s why we want to see gender equality measures in next week’s Federal Budget and why we’re calling for superannuation equity reform to be a priority in the next term of Government,” Blakey said.

Members also expressed concerns about the financial stress from a relationship breakdown, being forced into casual, insecure employment after returning to work and needing to work longer to build their super.

HESTA said it had long advocated to make women’s retirement outcomes a top priority and called for three urgent policy reforms to improve equity in super:

  • Paying super on Commonwealth Parental Leave Pay;
  • Introducing a super carer’s credit for unpaid parental leave; and
  • Providing universal access to affordable childcare.

“Fixing gender inequities is a key focus for investors like HESTA because issues like women’s lower workforce participation and pay gap of 13.8% are not only key reasons why women are retiring with around a third less super than men, it’s costing our economy billions of dollars,” Blakey added.

The comments were echoed by Rest who said many of its members were in low-paid roles which exacerbated the gender gap.

“We should be seizing every opportunity to address this gender gap. Extending the Superannuation Guarantee to the Commonwealth paid parental leave schemes will help make the system fairer and more equitable.

“Australian women, especially those in low-paid jobs, shouldn’t have to wait any longer for greater equity.

“We urge the Federal Government to announce this measure in next week’s 2022/23 Federal Budget, and encourage both major parties to commit to this change ahead of the upcoming Federal election.”

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