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Superannuation increases effective 1 July 2021

Libby Pallot, Walter MacCallum, Anthony Massaro, Ben Tallboys, Abbey Burns, Caitlin Walsh, Meena Iskandar, Natasha Sim, Morgan Smithe & Connor Farrell

From 1 July 2021, the minimum superannuation contribution that employers are required to make on behalf of their employees will increase from 9.5% to 10% of employees’ “ordinary time earnings” (SG rate). Employers should review their existing employees’ contracts to determine the most appropriate way to accommodate this change.


Will employers need to increase remuneration paid to employees?

This depends on how each individual employee’s contract of employment has been drafted.

If an employee’s contract of employment expresses their pay as being exclusive of superannuation, with superannuation contributions being made in addition to that pay, the increase in the SG rate will generally need to be borne by the employer as an additional cost.

However, in some cases, an employee may be paid a total remuneration package that is expressed to be inclusive of a salary (and possibly other amounts) as well as the minimum amount required to be paid by the employer into the employee’s superannuation fund. 

In that case, the employer may be able to adjust the proportion of each component of the employee’s remuneration package to accommodate the increase to the SG rate, without having to increase the amount of the total remuneration package. This would mean that the salary and other components of the total remuneration package would be reduced to take into account the additional superannuation contribution.

Whether an employee’s contract allows for this depends on the particular wording of the contract. Even if an employee receives a total remuneration package under their employment contract, employers will still need to ensure that the salary and other components of the remuneration package are enough to cover the employee’s minimum entitlements under any applicable award or enterprise agreement.


Can employers absorb the increase if they already pay more super than the minimum required?

This depends on the arrangements that underpin those payments. 

In some cases, an employer may have entered into a salary sacrifice arrangement with their employee, under which the employer contributes some of the employee’s salary or wages into the employee’s superannuation fund.

As of 1 January 2020, salary sacrificed superannuation contributions do not count towards the minimum required superannuation contribution. (As of the same date, salary sacrificed super contributions also do not reduce the ordinary time earnings base used to calculate the minimum superannuation contribution.)

Employers may also be required by an enterprise agreement or under an employment contract to make superannuation contributions over and above the minimum. In this case, whether an employer may absorb the increase will depend on the wording of those documents.


How we can help

Employers should review their employment arrangements to ensure that they understand and comply with their obligations under superannuation law. Please contact Russell Kennedy’s Workplace Relations, Employment and Safety Team for advice regarding your superannuation obligations.

If you would like to keep in touch with Alerts and Insights from our expert Workplace Relations, Employment and Safety team, you can subscribe to our mailing list here.

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