Government should pay superannuation guarantee to unpaid carers

12 November 2018

The Senate has just agreed to my motion asking the government to consider paying the superannuation guarantee to unpaid carers on benefits.

This is important because carers often have to take time out of the workforce to care for loved ones and their selfless unpaid work represents a huge savings to the economy. Carers Australia values this work at $60 billion a year.

I was heartened at Labor's support for this motion (detailed below), and I will pursue this with them should it be successful at the next federal election.

Most unpaid carers are women, and too many women retire with insufficient super - and indeed too many retire in poverty.  

Continuing the superannuation guarantee on carer benefits such as the Carer Payment and Paid Parental Leave can only be a positive. The Government's superannuation 'investment' in carers will in the longer term be partially offset by a reduced reliance on the aged pension. 

And the compounding benefits of maintaining superannuation contributions will mean these Australians - who would otherwise be in paid work if not for their caring responsibilities - will not be as severely impacted in retirement.

Wording of motion, passed by the Senate today:

I will move on the next day of sitting that the Senate: - 

1.    Acknowledges:
a)    The 14-20 October, was National Carers Week;
b)    Carers Australia values the work done by unpaid carers at an estimated $60 billion a year; 
c)    Women make up the majority of unpaid carers; women represent 68% of primary carers for elderly people and those with a disability, and 55.5% of all carers, according to the ABS’ Disability, Ageing and Carers survey;
d)    The labour force participation rate for primary carers was 56% compared to non-carers at 80%, and 73.0% of males who were carers were employed compared with 60.8% of females;
e)    According to Carers’ Australia’s report on 'The Benefit of Carers to the Economy', about 4 per cent of employees become carers each year, and the probability of a new carer leaving the workforce is 8 per cent. About 26 per cent of primary carers reduce their work hours after taking on a caring role;
f)    The 2017 Hilda survey showed Australian women retire with just over half the amount of super as men, or an average of $230,907, and one in three women retire with no super at all;
g)    One of the reasons women retire with less superannuation is because of the extended periods of time they spend out of the workforce to care for children or elderly parents. As a result of their lower retirement savings, they are more likely to rely on the aged pension;
h)    In 2016, the Senate Inquiry into Women's Economic Security in Retirement recommended that superannuation be paid on the Commonwealth Paid Parental Leave Scheme.

2.    Calls on the Government to:
a.    Model the costs and benefits of providing the superannuation guarantee to carers on the Carer Payment or other carer-related benefits, including the Commonwealth Paid Parental Leave Scheme. 
b.    Seriously consider providing the superannuation guarantee to carers on the Carer Payment or other benefit they are paid as a result of their caring responsibilities. 

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