McDonald Murholme Principal lawyer Andrew Jewell discusses what employees should do if they have not received superannuation payment from their employer.
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Gold Coast radio personality hits out at Southern Cross Austereo over $70,000 unpaid super
A HIGH-PROFILE radio host has hit out at her former employer after discovering she was ripped off by nearly $70,000 over a decade.
Suki Mead, who hosted the top-rating breakfast show on the Gold Coast’s 90.9 SeaFM from 1989 to 2003, went to consolidate her superannuation after turning 55 this year, only to find her retirement fund practically empty.
Ms Mead should have been paid roughly $70,000 in superannuation during her time at the radio station, but a search by the ATO’s Supertrace found just $5064.82 — all of which was paid by her later employers at rival station Hot Tomato in 2004 and the ABC in 2005.
She says she has been bounced back and forth between the Australian Taxation Office and the radio station, which is now part of Southern Cross Austereo, effectively hitting a brick wall.
“I’ve been onto the ATO, basically they told me to follow it up with SCA, who told me they can’t do anything because the company has changed, so I’m just going around in circles, it’s like a permanent roundabout,” she said.
It comes after a research report from Industry Super Australia and Cbus suggested nearly one in three workers were not being paid their compulsory superannuation, to the tune of $1500 a year on average.
Ms Mead, who left radio to focus on volunteer work and support her three daughters through their studies, admits she is “not good at the accounting side of things”, and so has only now realised the mistake.
“I turned 55 so I thought OK, ‘I better at least start gathering these things together’,” she said. “I believe I’ve done everything I can with no success.”
A spokeswoman for Southern Cross Austereo said the company doesn’t comment on issues relating to its employees. “Susan has been in contact with us and the issue is being looked into,” she said.
Andrew Jewell, principal lawyer at McDonald Murholme, said if an employee had not received superannuation payments into their nominated account they should make a complaint to the ATO, which will seek to recover the superannuation payments on their behalf.
“This process is not quick but the ATO will use its resources to recover the payments,” he said. “If there are complications such as liquidation of the employer company or issues regarding whether the individual was an employee or contractor the employee should seek legal advice.”
An ATO spokeswoman said due to confidentiality provisions in the Tax Administration Act 1953, the tax office “cannot comment on any individual’s or entity’s tax affairs”.
“If a worker believes his or her employer is not paying the superannuation guarantee then there are a number of steps that person should take,” the spokeswoman said. “First, we suggest checking with his or her employer. Employees can also report unpaid super to the ATO.”
She said workers should firstly check that they are entitled to be paid superannuation, before asking their employer if the superannuation is being paid and into which fund. They should then check their super fund statement or contact the fund to confirm whether their employer has paid their super contributions.
Workers can also check how much money has been paid into super accounts in the past two financial years, and see details of all super accounts, including lost super, through their myGov account linked to the ATO.
“If an employee has completed these steps and still believes their employer is not paying enough super, or is not paying the super to their chosen fund, they can report their employer to the ATO,” she said.
“The ATO takes non-payment by employers of superannuation guarantee seriously and we investigate all reports of noncompliance made to us.
“Each year the ATO receives roughly 20,000 reports where people believe that they have not had their superannuation guarantee paid by their employer. We examine every report and where suitable we follow up by making contact with the employer to seek confirmation, and if necessary we conduct audits and apply penalties.”
Reference: ‘Gold Coast radio personality hits out at Southern Cross Austereo over $70,000 unpaid super’, News.com, 14 December 2016.