Get your Super sorted

You know how a squirrel collects nuts to eat during the winter? Basically, you are the squirrel and superannuation are your nuts, and in this depressing metaphor, the winter is your retirement until you die.

Superannuation (or super) was designed by the Federal Government to ensure that all employees are saving a portion of their income to live on when retired. This portion is saved in a Superannuation fund, which builds up over time. You generally cannot touch these funds for any other reason than for use in retirement.

The Government has set a retirement age (currently 65) when superannuation can be accessed.

Above $450 your employer must pay you super

Do I have to add money to my super myself?

Nope. You can top it up with extra funds (though only to a certain limit because the Government is a fickle creature), but otherwise it is up to your employer to put a portion of your salary into your super with each pay.

Currently, your employer contributes 9.5% of your earnings into your super, so long as you are paid more than $450 from that employer in a calendar month.

For Performers covered by the MEAA Performers Collective Agreement, employers contribute 10% (this is in recognition of the fact that it’s harder for employees in the arts to consistently accumulate super). Check with your employer on whether you are employed under this agreement.

If I’m not permanently employed, do I get super?

Yes! Both employees and independent contractors working in the arts and entertainment industry should, in most instances, be paid super on top of their salary or fee.

There is a grey area around whether artists and creatives are entitled to superannuation on the artist fees that they receive on commissioning of works.

However, the Superannuation legislation states that super contributions are required to be paid to independent contractors who are “…paid to perform or present, or to participate in the performance or presentation of, any music, play, dance, entertainment, sport, display or promotional activity or any similar activity involving the exercise of intellectual, artistic, musical, physical or other personal skills.” If your employer does not contribute to your super, it’s worth bringing it up.

Check how much super you have

How do I check my super fund?

It’s very important you know your rights as an employee. It’s also important you know all the ins and outs of your own super fund! It’s a good idea to track your super, and if you’re ever feeling financially flush, this is when you can squirrel a little bit away – over a lifetime, these tiny contributions can make a big difference.

You can do this directly through your super fund – most send updates via email or post.
An easy way – especially if you are unsure of who your fund is – is to log into MyGov. Either log in or create an account and link into the ATO (there are directions on how to do this). Your super details will be here.

What happens to my super money?

While your super sits waiting for you to get old and retire, it’s managed by a Superannuation Fund. Each fund pools all the employee money it receives and invests it in a variety of investment options.

If you choose your own super fund, you can choose what your super money is invested in – such as shares, property or ethical options.

Relax and let your money work for you

What if I haven’t saved enough super to live on?

This is the sucky part of being a creative/performer – if you’re not full-time employed all the time, it’s a lot harder to consistently build up an amount to retire comfortably on. Similarly, women often earn less super than men due to the gender pay gap, and traditional gender roles mean that full time employment is interrupted more often for women by parental leave, carers leave (both of which don’t include super) etc.

There are a couple of things you can do to make sure you are getting the most out of superannuation:

  • Check your contract: is your employer contributing super on your behalf?

    If you’re an employee, ensure that your employer is paying you super. Check your rights here.

    If you’re a contractor, an artist, performer or are providing a direct service to live performance then you are most likely eligible. Check with this handy tool.

  • Consolidate your super account: do you have more than one?

    More often than not, people have more than one superannuation account. This is because they forget they have one and open a new one, or some organisations open one for their employees regardless of whether they already have one or not.

    Each super account will be charging you fees that diminish the amount of super you are saving. Only one account, only one set of fees. You can consolidate your accounts through your MyGov account.

Pull all your eggs in one basket

Don’t believe your payslip

  • Check that your employer does pay you super

    Across 2014/2015, studies found that employers failed to pay a combined $2.85 billion to their employees’ super accounts….oh heck that’s a lot.

    Even if your payslip indicates that your super has been paid, it’s always smart to double check. Take 5 mins to call your super fund to check that you’ve been paid, and paid the correct amount!

  • Choose your own super fund
    If you’ve read any news lately, you’ll see that there is a big ol’ hoo-hah about banks and financial organisations ripping off their customers. A lot of this is around superannuation accounts. Not naming any names, but there are definitely some pretty hefty fees slung on customers by certain companies – so do your research to make sure you are paying the lowest fees for the highest return. You can compare super funds via sites such as Choice or ASIC’s MoneySmart Site.

    Also consider your personal circumstance and what may suit you best. To make things more complicated, super can be like investing – there are options for those wanting to make a quick buck or grow their investment steadily. If you’re choosing your own super fund, different companies offer different packages, so have a look around and find on that suits your circumstances.

    Don’t forget to let your employers know when you switch super accounts to avoid multiple accounts.

Under 45yrs you can risk to invest in “growth’ option

You should pay less than 0.85%/year in fees

  • Check how much you are being charged

    As mentioned above, it is so easy to pay higher fees than you need to on super. To find out how much you are being charged by your super, google ‘[The name of your fund] + PDS‘. This search will bring up a PDF of the PDS (Product Disclosure Statement). Scroll down to the ‘Fees and charges’ section.

    As a general rule, your super fund should be charging you less than 0.85% a year in fees – total. If it’s higher than that, chances are that you are getting ripped off, and you might want to consider switching fund to a cheaper one.

  • Every little bit counts

    We are lucky enough to live in a country that supplies a pension for every citizen to live on in retirement. It’s not meant to be more than a safety net for those who haven’t been able to accumulate enough superannuation.

    The Age Pension is means-tested, if you’re work means you’re not consistently accumulating super to live comfortably on, what you have saved will combine with an income-tested amount of pension. So use every opportunity to squirrel away that super!

    Also get this – if you earn less than $51,8133 per year (weirdly accurate number Fed Gov, but okay) and decide to make a personal (after-tax) contribution to your super fund, the Federal Government will match your contribution by up to 50c to every dollar (up to a certain amount). You can find more about this on the ATO site here. Make it raiiiinnnn!

Performing Lines acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the lands on which we work – the Gadigal in Sydney, the Whadjuk in Perth, and the Muwinina in Hobart – and pay our respects to their Elders past and present.

We extend those respects to all First Nations peoples on whose lands we travel and perform.