The ASU recently lodged a submission to the Senate Inquiry into the economic security of women in retirement. Our findings, following a major survey of our members and supporters, leave no doubt that major policy changes are required to prevent large numbers of women and their families from experiencing the poverty and hardship that comes with little or no savings for retirement.
The current gap between men and women's earnings is approximately 18.8% but what is far more revealing is the estimate that women will have approximately 46.6% less superannuation than men when they retire. As a result, women are more likely to rely on the age pension than are men.
The ASU wanted to look more closely at why this might be and what could be done to address the serious problem of poverty after a life of work and caring for family. In addition to information and research we have as a result of representing workers, we also surveyed our members and supporters to understand their views more specifically and ideas on how problems could be fixed.
There were more than 1,500 respondents to the ASU survey, which shows there is a considerable amount of interest in the issue of retirement security. The survey explored the importance of workplace practices and policies, as well as government policies, and what contributes to fairer retirement outcomes for workers. It also asked respondents to reflect on how they expected retirement to affect them and how much thought or planning they had put into it.
The ASU's Senate submission speaks to the effect on the retirement savings of women of the gender pay gap and the impact of caring responsibilities which require time out of the workforce. The undervaluation of female dominated work must not continue. The over-representation of women in precarious work must also be addressed with measures to assist families who currently rely on a primary carer to take time away from workplaces to provide unpaid care for dependants.
Some of the ASU's recommendations include (a link to our submission is below for all our recommendations in detail):
- Workplace rights to family friendly work arrangements.
- A more effective system for achieving equal remuneration for work of equal value.
- Superannuation taxation reform to remove penalties on low paid workers.
- Ensure super is paid on paid parental leave.
The information gathered by the survey informed our Senate submission but what we learned from the results was of such importance that we have decided to publish an additional report for a wider audience on this issue of retirement security. We will publish the additional report shortly.
We'd like to thank everyone who participated in the survey and remind members and all workers that we greatly value your input and encourage you to get involved in all opportunities to help the Union reflect the aspirations of our members.