No super for gig workers

September 12, 2017

Workers who earn their living from the so-called “gig economy” are missing out on mandatory employer superannuation, according to a peak industry body. a

The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) estimates about 100,000 Australian workers currently use web-based platforms to get work on a regular basis and many of them don’t qualify for the Superannuation Guarantee (SG).

That’s around 0.8 per cent of the nation’s workforce generating an income working for likes of Uber, Airtasker and Deliveroo; but ASFA chief Dr Martin Fahy says the numbers are set to grow and encompass an increasingly wide variety of industries and professions.

“The current superannuation settings are not suited to these trends,” Dr Fahy say. “For affected workers, in the absence of any policy reforms, a growing gig economy would mean lower superannuation balances at retirement.”

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Dr Fahy says the Superannuation Guarantee does not cover independent contractors or most of self-employed workers and employers are currently not required to pay SG contributions to workers who earn less than $450 a month. ASFA released a discussion paper in September calling for those things to change.

“This is particularly relevant for people for who work sporadically and are on low incomes, but also for those who work in the gig economy as a second job,” he said. “Low-paid, low-skilled workers in particular may be disadvantaged with their involvement in the gig economy, driven by necessity rather than choice or convenience.”

Dr Fahy says in the run up to retirement the self-employed generally have about half as much super and employees and almost one-quarter of self-employed people have no superannuation at all.

“The rise of the gig economy means the issue will only become more prevalent,” he says. “The case for extending the compulsory superannuation regime to include the self-employed is strong.”

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