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Westpac announces 12 months superannuation payments for employees.

 

Westpac today announced an Australian private sector first with the decision to pay superannuation on unpaid parental leave for all permanent employees, effective 1 July 2010.

Under the new initiative, Westpac will pay up to 39 weeks in employee superannuation contributions in addition to its existing parental leave entitlements of 13 weeks superannuation and 13 weeks full pay1.  This means employee superannuation contributions will now be paid for the full year of their parental leave.

Eligible employees will receive superannuation contributions of 9% of their base salary paid as a lump sum amount.

Westpac Chief Executive Gail Kelly said she is very pleased to be announcing a ground-breaking initiative for employees which would continue to maintain Westpac’s market-leading position on diversity.

“This initiative is another step Westpac has taken to create a work environment where we support diversity, in this case particularly for our women employees,” Mrs Kelly said.

“By proactively paying these additional superannuation contributions, we will help make a difference to our employees’ retirement savings and continue to retain the very best talent in this organisation.  Ensuring all Australian women and men are financially prepared for retirement is one of the most important challenges facing our community.”

Mrs Kelly said Westpac would also extend its support to customers by waiving administration fees for its BT Super for Life account holders for the duration of their parental leave.

“Raising a family is an enormous responsibility.  This new superannuation initiative sets a high benchmark for the private sector and reflects our strong resolve that our employees should not be financially disadvantaged in retirement for taking time out of the workforce for their family,” Mrs Kelly said.

Mrs Kelly added that industry research on the impact on superannuation savings, from taking time out of the workforce, supported Westpac’s decision.
Recent research by independent industry consultants RICEwarner2 shows that a woman with an average career break of five years can expect to save approximately 26% less in superannuation income than other women who remain in the workforce throughout their careers.

Over a thousand employees from across Westpac, St.George, BT and Rams will benefit from this new initiative each year. Approximately 1750 employees across the Group took unpaid parental leave in the last financial year.

“Westpac is very proud to be making a significant investment in the future of our workforce and the goodwill of our employees,” Mrs Kelly concluded. 

 
1. 13 weeks Parental Leave as per the new proposed Westpac Enterprise Agreement effective 24 September 2010.
2. RICEwarner report Superannuation Savings Gap for Women at 30 June 2009.