Superannuation in Australia

What is the Superannuation System in Australia?.

Most employees in Australia, whether full time, part time, casual, Permanent of Temporary resident, are entitled to compulsory superannuation (super) contributions from their employers.

This was brought in by the Labor government, (who held power between 11th July 1987 and 2nd March 1996), and it began on 1st July 1992.

From 1 July 2014, these super guarantee contributions must be at least 9.5% of your ordinary earnings, up to the ‘Maximum Super Contribution’.  It is set to increase to 10% in July 2021.

These contributions, paid on top of your basic salary, apply to people who are 18 years old or over, and paid $450 or more (before tax) in a month.

People that are under 18, but work at least 30 hours per week, may also be entitled to receive super contributions from their employer.

Some employees have the contributions paid onto a super fund chosen by their employer, but most people can choose the super fund they want their employer contributions paid into, if the prefer.

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Employees can choose to add more into their super if they wish to, from their earnings, ensuring a larger retirement income. They also receive tax benefits for doing this, subject to limits.

ATO – Getting your super started:…/Employees

Temporary Residents and Superannuation.

Those people that are in Australia on a temporary visa, and who have received some of the super guarantee contributions, may wish to claim these funds when leaving, rather than leave it in Australia until they retire.

You may be eligible to claim that super back after departing Australia permanently, with no intention to return.

Some of the conditions include that your visa has ceased to be in effect (expired or cancelled), and that you are now outside Australia.
It will also be taxed before you receive it.

ATO – Departing Australia superannuation payment:…/Temporary-residents-and-super

Maximum Super Contribution.

An employer does NOT have to pay the superannuation guarantee on earnings that are higher than a base limit. This base limit is currently set at $55,720 per quarter, for the 2019-20 year.

This would mean that people earning $222,880 or higher, in that year, will only receive a super guarantee contribution calculated on that $222,880. At 9.5% that would be $21,173 in Employer paid Super Contributions.

Compulsory Super Contribution rates:.

The Compulsory Super Contribution rates, since the creation of this scheme,  and future planned changes, are:

  • 1 July 1992 – 3.00%
  • 1 July 1993 – 3.00%
  • 1 July 1994 – 4.00%
  • 1 July 1995 – 5.00%
  • 1 July 1996 – 6.00%
  • 1 July 1998 – 7.00%
  • 1 July 2000 – 8.00%
  • 1 July 2002 – 9.00%
  • 1 July 2013 – 9.25%
  • 1 July 2014 – 9.50%
  • 1 July 2021 – 10.00%
  • 1 July 2022 – 10.50%
  • 1 July 2023 – 11.00%
  • 1 July 2024 – 11.50%
  • 1 July 2025 – 12.00%

History of Superannuation in Australia.

Prior to 1991, superannuation was optional, either paid by the employer or by people arranging their own.
20th August 1991:
In the 1991 Budget, Treasurer John Kerin (In the Paul Keating Labor Government) announced that from 1 July 1992, under a new system to be known as the Superannuation Guarantee (SG), employers would be required to make superannuation contributions on behalf of their employees. These Super contributions were to begin at 3% and to rise progressively to 9% by 2002.

In 1990 only 64% of employees were covered by super.
In 1992 the the compulsory super scheme (the superannuation guarantee) was introduced.
This required all employers to make mandatory contributions for their employees at the rate of 3% of their salary, in addition to that salary.
By June 1995, 80.5% employed persons were covered by superannuation.
By June 2003, 90.% of employed persons had employer provided superannuation.

The effect of this superannuation guarantee, was to ensure that more employees now had a private super for when they retire.


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