Superannuation for casual workers

If your 9 – 5 desk job lets you surf Facebook, Buzzfeed and Tumblr, it doesn’t necessarily make you a casual worker – it probably just means you have a lenient boss. Or you’re very sneaky.

There is no conclusive definition of what being a casual worker is, but it generally means the jobs involved are temporary, have irregular hours or aren’t necessarily guaranteed to still be there next week. There are about two million casual workers in Australia according to the Australian Council of Trade Unions. About 40 per cent of these are younger workers between 15 and 24.

As a casual worker, there are a bunch of benefits you are entitled to, such as protection from unfair dismissal, parental leave and casual loading (basically a higher hourly wage). However, you will not get paid holiday leave or sick leave, and are not entitled to leave pay or termination notice. One part of the casual working relationship goes both ways – that is, an employer can’t force you to work a shift, and you don’t have to be available to work 24/7.

Fortunately, all Australian workers are covered by the Superannuation Guarantee legislation – casual desk workers and actual casual workers alike. If you fit under this umbrella, there are a few particulars you should know about.

The superannuation guarantee (SG) is calculated by looking at the number of hours a casual employee works outside the span of normal prescribed ordinary hours. This is a confusing-sounding way of describing what you’re entitled to.

Generally speaking, if you’re earning less than $450 in a month, your employer is not required to make employer superannuation contributions. However you are eligible for employer contributions of 9.5 per cent if you’re over 18 and earn more than $450 a month (before tax), or are under 18 and work more than 30 hours a week.

The main thing to remember is that you should double check to see what you are entitled to. Have a look at ways you can build your super fund through this kind of help.

If you earn less than $37,000 per year and you meet the eligibility criteria, you may also get a ‘low income super contribution’ of up to $500 from the government. The ATO will automatically make these payments if you meet the criteria. See low income super contribution.

Alternatively, if you earn less than $49,488 per year (before tax) and make after-tax super contributions, you are eligible to get matching contributions from the government. This is called the government co-contribution.

Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from topping up your super regardless of your job type!