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Calls to close super gap for working mums

Yasmine Masi9 February 2022
Divided opinions

Australian not-for-profit community services provider, Growing Potential, has announced it will afford its 145 staff – of which 91 per cent are women – full super on parental leave, in an effort to close the superannuation gender gap.

The not-for-profit has pledged to continue regular superannuation payments for all employees during parental leave for up to 24 months. Payments will also be increased in accordance with the superannuation guarantee percentage.

Otto Henfling, CEO of Growing Potential, has also called on other businesses to follow suit. He has advocated for more support to enact government policy changes to bridge the gender superannuation gap in Australia.

“It’s blatantly clear that more needs to be done by all governments to improve gender equality for women at work and the superannuation system,” Henfling said.

According to data from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the median superannuation balance around retirement age (60 to 64 years) in 2018-19 was $137,051 for women and $178,808 for men. This 30 per cent difference can be attributed to the economic disadvantages women come across in their working lives, with lower wages offered and more career breaks needed to raise children.

The Government Paid Parental Leave Scheme was introduced in 2011 to ensure working parents receive up to 18 weeks of pay at minimum wage. It is also the only type of leave that does not allow for the superannuation guarantee.

“Government – and businesses, even if on their own accord – need to stop penalising women who take time out of paid work to raise children, at a cost of sacrificing thousands in their retirement savings,” Henfling said.

“Australian women should not have to make this sacrifice and I am very proud that the vast majority of Growing Potential’s female staff now needn’t contend with this unfair discrimination – and that’s what it is, the current system is discriminatory against working mothers.

“I am calling on leaders of other organisations – especially those within female-dominated work sectors – to also take a proactive and best practice approach by continuing to pay superannuation on parental leave.”

Henfling also highlighted how a superannuation initiative like Growing Potential’s helps to avoid further economic disadvantages later in life.

“Growing Potential’s superannuation initiative encapsulates our mission to ‘support and grow the potential of children, families and communities’, and we truly hope our adoption of this initiative sparks momentum around the issue,” he said.

“Not-for-profit and for-profit organisations need to act now to improve gender equality for women at work. Otherwise, Australian women will continue to pay the price and retire with less than men for decades to come.”

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