Underpaid Australians are set to receive a $2billion boost to their super accounts as the government gives companies one month to cough up unpaid payments without being punished.
The Australian Taxation Office estimates around $2.3billion is owed by employers across the country – who have until September 7 to own up to underpaying their workers’ super.
Known offenders in the ATO’s campaign against super rip-offs are restaurants and cafes, subcontractors working in construction and nightclubs.
The government body has started notifying an estimated 860,000 businesses they will face stiff penalties if they do not catch up on payments which date back to July 1, 1992.
Businesses choosing to confess to underpayment and avoid fines must pay the superannuation in full with a ten per cent interest fee, either paid up front or through a payment plan.
Payments made by the deadline will be tax deductible.
The program has been touted by Assistant Minister for Superannuation Jane Hume as a way for workers to have their underpayments rectified.
‘Super is a form of deferred wages and every bit as important to be paid, and paid in full,’ she said.
‘The super guarantee amnesty allows employers a one-off opportunity to come forward, pay or put a plan in place to pay, and set things right without facing financial penalties from the tax office.
‘If you are in any doubt, it is vitally important that you talk to your tax agent or the ATO today; the amnesty expires in a month and it will take time to verify the amount of any unpaid super and pay it or put a payment plan in place.’
The national tax office also sends employers with a reputation for underpayment ‘nudge’ emails to pay their staff the right amount.
The windfall comes after National Australia Bank staff were urged in June to review their pay after the bank said it had found underpayments to about 1,500 employees.
The Finance Sector Union (FSU) called on members at NAB to take part in an urgent audit to determine the extent of the staff underpayment.
The bank said the week before it had set up an independent investigation into payments to current and former employees.
NAB group executive for people and culture, Susan Ferrier, emailed staff to say the bank had hired law firm King & Wood Mallesons and audit firm PwC to conduct a review of problems with its payroll system.
If a worker believes they has been a mistake in their super payments, they are urged to contact the ATO and lodge a claim.