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Are casual employees eligible for superannuation?

Under Australian law, all employees of companies and organisations that meet certain eligibility must be paid a superannuation contribution. This generally extends to full-time and part-time employees, but it doesn’t always extend to casual employees.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) states that an employer must pay 10% of the value (also known as the super guarantee) of your 'ordinary time earnings' into your super fund if:

  • You're over 18 and earn more than $450 before tax in a calendar month, or
  • You're under 18 and work more than 30 hours a week (and still earn more than $450 in the calendar month).

If you’re a casual employee who works extra hours occasionally, your employer must adjust their superannuation payment accordingly. How often your superannuation is paid will depend on your company, but it should be done at least quarterly.

If you are casually employed and do not meet the super guarantee threshold, it may be worth considering making voluntary contributions to protect your financial situation in your retirement years.

In Australia, casual workers who make after-tax contributions to their super funds, and are on low or middle-tier incomes, may also qualify for the government’s co-contribution scheme. This is where the government may also make contributions into your super fund up to a maximum amount of $500.

You may also want to speak to a spouse about spousal contributions, which are a type of salary sacrifice your partner can make on your behalf. If you earn under $40,000 per annum, the spouse contributions scheme allows the highest income earner to contribute to your superannuation account (if eligible). The contributing spouse may enjoy a tax offset of up to $540.

What is the superannuation guarantee?

As mentioned above, there is a set rate that employers must pay from their employees’ base income into their superannuation funds. This is also known as the super guarantee, and employees who do not pay this rate into the correct fund by the due date will be charged (also called the superannuation guarantee charge).

The current minimum rate of pay from your total income that is deposited into your super, also known as the super guarantee (SG), is 10%. This is set to climb to 12% by 2025 due to new government legislation, after sitting at 9.5% since 2014.

What is the current super guarantee rate?

The current super guarantee rate is 10%. The Australian government has legislated that the super guarantee percentage is to rise to 12% over the next few years.

Here is how the super guarantee rate has been legislated to increase:

PeriodGeneral super guarantee (%)
1 July 2002 – 30 June 20139.00%
1 July 2013 – 30 June 20149.25%
1 July 2014 – 30 June 20159.50%
1 July 2015 – 30 June 20169.50%
1 July 2016 – 30 June 20179.50%
1 July 2017 – 30 June 20189.50%
1 July 2018 – 30 June 20199.50%
1 July 2019 – 30 June 20209.50%
1 July 2020 – 30 June 20219.50%
1 July 2021 – 30 June 202210.00%
1 July 2022 – 30 June 202310.50%
1 July 2023 – 30 June 202411.00%
1 July 2024 – 30 June 202511.50%
1 July 2025 – 30 June 202612.00%
1 July 2026 – 30 June 202712.00%
1 July 2027 – 30 June 2028 and onwards12.00%

Source: ATO.gov.au

Do casual employees get super on overtime?

According to the ATO, your pre-tax salary includes income such as:

  • Your regular wage (ordinary time earnings)
  • Shift allowances
  • Commissions
  • Some bonuses

This is also referred to as your ordinary time earnings (OTE) and refers to the amount you earn for ordinary hours of work, including annual leave. It does not always include overtime payments as they are considered to fall outside of OTE, however, according to AustralianSuper, in some instances overtime may count towards OTE:

  • “When an agreement overrides an award (removing the distinction between ordinary hours and other hours).
  • On piece-rates, where pay is for a piece of work or unit rather than for hours worked, and there are no ordinary hours of work specified.
  • On shift loadings.
  • Danger and on-call allowances for doctors".

In these cases, your employer may need to pay you the super guarantee rate on your overtime.

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How can you check if your employer is paying your super?

It is crucial that you regularly assess if your employer is paying your super, as human error and negligence can occur, even when your employer uses the latest accounting software.

Your payslip is not enough to confirm that your super payments have been made. The ATO advises that:

  1. Employees should go to ATO online via MyGov to view super contributions that have been paid into your super account by your employer, as well as their recorded super balance from the most recent financial year.
  2. Employees can use the Estimate my super tool if they are unsure how much super their employer should have paid.
  3. Look at the member statements from your super fund to confirm that the correct amount has been paid.

What should you do if your employer isn’t paying your super?

If you believe that your employer has not been making the correct super payments, or has made payment to the wrong fund, it’s best to lodge an enquiry by reporting your employer with the ATOs online tool.

The ATO advises they can only investigate an enquiry about unpaid super for a period after the employer's due date for lodgement has passed, which can be viewed online.

When you are ready to report missing super, you will need to provide the following information to the ATO:

  • Your personal details – including tax file number (TFN)
  • The period of your enquiry
  • Your employer's details – including Australian business number (ABN).

Then you simply need to fill in the online form via the ATO’s website and they should investigate this issue with your employer.

This article was reviewed by Personal Finance Editor Mark Bristow before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.