• General Research

    Superannuation guarantee research 2013

    The ATO is tasked with optimising employer compliance with the Superannuation Guarantee (SG) scheme which requires employers to make direct contributions to funds on behalf of eligible employees. In 2013, quantitative research was conducted to provide robust information about employees:

    • understanding of their superannuation entitlements
    • knowledge gaps and the barriers to taking action
    • awareness of – and attitudes toward – the SG and the ATO’s role.

    The research aimed to:

    • answer each of these objectives
    • provide an evidence base to inform our future strategy for communications and administration of the superannuation scheme to support employees and contractors in Australia – overall and by specific audience groups.

    Positive insights

    • Encouragingly, the majority of respondents were aware that most people working in Australia are eligible for compulsory SG contributions (83%) and that they should be receiving at least 9% of their current salary / wages (80%) in the form of SG.
    • Employees were also largely aware that they are able to choose their superannuation funds (78%).
    • Overall, employees value their employer superannuation guarantee contributions with 3 in 5 (61%) considering it extremely important and 9 in 10 (88%) considering it extremely or somewhat important.
    • Overall, research found employees’ lack of concern about and engagement with superannuation guarantee suggests the system is working well for most, so much so that minimal intervention is required.

    Areas for improvement

    • Most problematic for respondents were the ‘barriers to making a complaint when issues arose’ which included fear of losing job or angering an employer but also their lack of knowledge about how to get – or where to go for – advice (noting it was lowest for those aged 18-24 years old and highest for those aged 55-69 years old). There is some evidence that, while many respondents would consider going to the ATO, there is room for improvement to lift our profile in this area.
    • The research suggests that while the system is generally working well, the blasé attitude of employees serves to directly pass most (if not all) responsibility to employers to ‘do the right thing’. In the majority of cases employers appear to be fulfilling their obligations with regard to paying employees the right amount of superannuation guarantee. However, when this is not the case, employees may not be equipped to take action confidently and without risk (of losing a job etc.).
    • Despite the high value placed on receiving SG payments, less than half (45%) of employees were more than ‘somewhat’ interested in their SG payments (interested or very interested). Less than 1 in 5 (17%) said they were very interested and would seek out information.
    • There are some notable information gaps in the area of SG, particularly among younger employees (under 24 years old). This same age group expresses some concern about their lack of knowledge about entitlements and eligibility.

    How the research is being used

    The results from the SG research survey confirmed our understanding of the level of awareness and areas of concern regarding SG and employees. This has provided a level of assurance that our communications strategies are effective and on track. However, we have considered the areas for improvement that were highlighted in the research and how we can make progress towards these.

    We will continue to look for opportunities to better promote the ways employees can lodge Employee Notifications including cross promotion with other ATO online tools. We are also considering whether we can add new tools to the ATO app which will allow employees to work out whether and how much super should be paid for them. We have used social media opportunities and worked with other Government agencies in an effort to particularly target a younger audience in line with the findings of the research.

    We also recognise the reliance on employers to 'get it right' and we continue to focus on high risk industries to educate and monitor compliance. The research reinforces the importance of these targeted and proactive approaches.

    Find out more

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      Last modified: 11 Jun 2014QC 40625