Self-employed women are being urged to prioritise superannuation payments, after a survey revealed more than 50% of Australian female business owners are not contributing to super.
The survey, conducted by the Australian Women Chamber of Commerce & Industry, was open to women who own and operate their own business. A total of 2,952 women took part.
Overall, 53% of respondents said they are not contributing to their superannuation, while only 22% of respondents have always contributed to their super.
AWCCI chief executive Yolanda Vega says the super contributions of female business owners are “extremely inauspicious”, calling for the introduction of relevant policies and programs.
“Women today are leaving their employers and starting up their own business in numbers never previously seen,” Vega says.
“Generally, women don’t pay themselves a wage as business owners for the first few years and therefore cannot contribute to super either.”
“Now that we have more information about this fast-growing sector… we must implement policies and programs that will be conducive to women.”
Pauline Vamos, chief executive of the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, agrees there is a serious problem when it comes to women and super.
“There are two major gaps in the superannuation system – women and the self-employed,” Vamos says.
“The increasing number of self-employed women has the potential to add tens of thousands more women to those who will end up relying principally on the Age Pension in retirement.”
According to Vamos, the increase in the Superannuation Guarantee, from 9% to 12%, will help to improve the lives of all Australian retirees, regardless of whether they are male or female.
“But for any system to be sustainable in the long-term, it must be universal. This means everybody should contribute and everybody should benefit,” Vamos says.
The survey shows women aged 45-54 are the highest contributors to superannuation, and the majority of these are sole traders. But according to Veda, it’s too little, too late.
“At this age… the good intentions are not producing the long-term requirements,” she says.
“What we do not want to find, in five years from now, is a million women living below the poverty line because they have no superannuation, a failed business and are no longer employable.”
“With the data now at hand, we must act in the best interests of sole traders and small business – that includes ensuring small businesses are not bogged down with red tape.”
“The compliant burdens must be examined carefully, and the red tape must be significantly reduced in order to prevent super distribution issues.”