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Have your say on the gig economy – are super and retirement incomes at stake?

Media Release 28 September 2017

28 September 2017

Have your say on the gig economy – are super and retirement incomes at stake?

It’s not too late to have your say on the gig economy and super, with feedback due on an Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) discussion paper by tomorrow.

The paper examines the changing nature of work and the implications of this for Australian workers, including their superannuation.

The rise of the gig economy will have potentially profound effects on the nature of work and on the relationships between workers and those who engage them. It will also challenge the effectiveness of current settings for the superannuation system.

The gig economy encompasses markets where buyers and sellers of goods and services are matched or organised via web-based platforms, doing away in many cases with traditional employment practices and protections.

ASFA estimates there are currently around 100,000 workers in Australia who use web-based platforms to obtain work on a regular basis, or around 0.8 per cent of the Australian workforce. These numbers are set to grow. Web-based platforms will cater for an increasingly wide variety of industries and professions.

On the one hand, the gig economy will provide workers with greater flexibility and will enable people to find work that better matches their preferences. For instance, currently there are up to 500,000 Australians would like to work but may be prevented from doing so in traditional jobs due to family circumstances.

On the other hand, gig economy workers can have low security of employment and income and may not be covered by standard conditions that apply to employees – this includes compulsory superannuation contributions. Low-paid, low-skilled workers in particular may be disadvantaged with their involvement in the gig economy, driven by necessity rather than choice or convenience.

The Superannuation Guarantee (SG) does not cover independent contractors or most of the broader group in the labour force that is self-employed. An increased prevalence of independent work arrangements means, under current policy settings, a lower proportion of jobs for which workers will receive SG contributions.

The discussion paper canvases options for adjusting current settings. These include:

  • Extending coverage of the SG to independent contractors and the broader group of self-employed workers
  • Removing the $450-a-month wages threshold for the SG to be paid to employees.

For affected workers and in the absence of any policy reforms, a growing gig economy would mean lower superannuation balances at retirement. This would reduce the broader adequacy of the superannuation and retirement income system.

ASFA is seeking a broad range of views from stakeholders on the issues raised in the paper to inform policy development. Responses can be emailed to Andrew Craston with feedback due by Friday 29 September.

For further information, please contact:

Teresa Mullan, Media Manager, 0451 949 300.

About ASFA

ASFA is the peak policy, research and advocacy body for Australia’s superannuation industry. It is a not-for-profit, sector-neutral and non-party political, national organisation. ASFA’s mission is to continuously improve the superannuation system so people can live in retirement with increasing prosperity. We focus on the issues that affect the entire superannuation system and represent more than 90 per cent of the 14.8 million Australians with superannuation.

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