Australia Urged to Change the Course for Gig Workers’ Retirement

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Amidst increasing pressure from unions and other organisations, Australia is urged to change the course for gig workers’ retirement security by providing access to superannuation and other benefits traditionally available only to employees.

Recent reports have shown that gig workers in Australia face an uphill battle when securing a comfortable retirement. With many workers relying on the gig economy as their primary source of income, there is growing pressure for the Australian government to re-evaluate the existing retirement policies and make changes to ensure gig workers receive the same benefits as their full-time counterparts.

Every year, gig workers in Australia, around 275,000 of them, are not receiving A$400 million (US$266.9 million) worth of superannuation contributions.

A new report by Industry Super Australia, an Australian superannuation fund that aims to provide employee retirement benefits, has found that gig employees could increase their retirement savings by up to A$29,000 (US$19,351) if they were given superannuation contributions.

The gig workforce of Australia includes various professionals like delivery drivers, disability carers, IT professionals, and education workers. They are classified as independent contractors and are not eligible for superannuation contributions.

According to the report, an average transport and food-delivery driver who works 14.5 hours a week and earns A$24 (US$16) an hour misses A$1,900 (US$1,268) super contributions per year. If the worker spends three years in the industry, this amount will grow to A$17,200 (US$11,477) by retirement. If the worker spends five years, the estimated amount increases to A$28,700 (US$19,151).

Bernie Dean, Chief Executive of Industry Super Australia, emphasised that gig workers should have the chance to save for their retirement, regardless of their occupation.

“Providing superannuation to gig workers is not only morally responsible but also economically beneficial because it promotes their retirement independence and minimises their dependence on the age pension supported by taxpayers,” Dean elaborated.  

“The workers who care for our elderly, deliver food, and drive us home are important and deserve to benefit from a savings system meant for everyone.” 

It’s time for the Australian government to recognise that gig workers are just as important and deserving of retirement security as any other worker. With the right policies, Australia can ensure a more secure future for its growing gig workforce. 

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