Employers are obligated to make super guarantee payments (SG) on behalf of their employees. Any non-payment of this worker entitlement represents wage theft; a practice never to be condoned, according to the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA).

“From time to time, small businesses can experience cash flow issues, making them vulnerable when it comes to meeting their SG obligations by the required due date,” said IPA chief executive officer, Andrew Conway.

“A small business employer who is late in paying the SG obligation, face a plethora of harsh penalties which are disproportionate to the mischief.

“We recognise that a penalty regime is required but the draconian way the existing system works acts as a disincentive for mainly compliant employers.

The Government has introduced legislation to complement the sweeping SG integrity package already before Parliament by introducing a one‑off, twelve month amnesty for historical underpayment of SG.

“The IPA supports this initiative as it incentivises employers to come forward and do the right thing by their employees by paying any unpaid superannuation in full.

“It should be noted that employers will not be entirely off the hook – to use the amnesty they must pay all that is owing to their employees, including the high rate of nominal interest. However, the amnesty will make it easier to secure outstanding employee entitlements, by setting aside the penalties for late payment.

“Employers that do not take advantage of the one-off amnesty will face significantly higher penalties if they are subsequently caught (a minimum 50 per cent on top of the SG Charge they owe). In addition, throughout the amnesty period the ATO will still continue its usual enforcement activity against employers.

“This one-off amnesty should be supported to allow employers to wipe the slate clean and pay their workers what they're owed, as all Australians workers should be paid their entitlements in full.

“The Government is further strengthening the ATO tools available in future to enforce compliance so the timing of this amnesty is appropriate," said Mr Conway.

The ALP says it will strongly oppose the Government's planned amnesty for businesses that failed to make SG payments which could cause problems for the Government trying to get the legislation through Parliament.