Whether it’s finally doing that year abroad, taking time to care for a loved one, or going on parental leave, there may come a time when you opt to take a career break.

Though your super might be the last thing on your mind when you’re planning your stint away from the daily grind, it’s important to make sure it will still be working for you while you’re away.

Depending on what kind of break you’re taking, you may or may not be receiving super contributions from your employer. While Qantas Group pays super contributions on your paid parental leave, for example, it doesn’t contribute to your super when you’re on leave without pay.

It’s important to think about these details – after all, every dollar counts in your super. Thanks to the way compound interest works, a few months’ worth of missed contributions now while you’re away could mean tens of thousands of dollars missing from your super when you’re ready to retire.

Before going away, here are some things you may want to consider to help your super keep on track:

The government co-contribution

The super co-contribution is a tax-free bonus from the government to help people on low to middle incomes boost their super.

If you earn between $39,837 and $54,837, the Australian government will co-contribute 50 cents for every dollar you make through voluntary contributions from your after tax salary.

There are limits to how much the government will contribute and these are based on your income.

Your co-contribution will be reduced for every dollar you earn above the lower threshold, until you reach the upper threshold.

The lower and higher income thresholds are $39,837 and $54,837 for the 2020/21 financial year. If your co-contribution is less than $20, the government will pay the minimum amount of $20.

Co-contribution amounts

The table below shows examples of what your co-contribution amount would be in 2020/21, depending on your income level and your personal super contribution for the year.

IncomePersonal super contribution of $1,000Personal super contribution of $800Personal super contribution of $500Personal super contribution of $200
$39,837 or less$500$400$250$100
$42,837$400$400$250$100
$45,837$300$300$250$100
$48,837$200$200$200$100
$51,837$100$100$100$100
$54,837 or more$0$0$0$0
Spouse contribution splitting

If you fit the eligibility criteria (you are below your preservation age, or between your preservation age and 65 years old and not yet retired) and have a spouse or de facto who will continue to work while you take a career break, they can transfer or roll over a portion of the contributions they recently made to their super account, into yours.

Contributions that can be split include your spouse’s employer contributions and salary sacrifice contributions.

You can apply to split your contributions by lodging an application with Qantas Super immediately after the financial year in which the contributions were made. The contributions will then be transferred into your account.

Tax offset for super contributions on behalf of a spouse

Under the rules for the 2020/21 financial year, if you earn $37,000 or less in the total of assessable income, fringe benefits, and employer super contributions, your spouse (or de facto) can make an after-tax contribution to your super of $3,000 and receive a tax offset of $540.

The tax offset is progressively reduced to zero for spouses who earn $40,000 or more.

Carry forward unused concessional contributions

As of 1 July 2018, members with a total superannuation balance below $500,000 as of the previous 30 June can ‘carry forward’ any unused amounts from under their concessional caps in previous financial years. This may be able to help you catch up on the contributions you miss while away from work.

It’s important to remember that the concessional contributions cap was previously $25,000 between the 2017/18 and 2020/21 financial years, and that it increased to $27,500 in the 2021/22 financial year.

For example, if you had only made $10,000 of concessional contributions in the 2020/21 financial year, you would be able to contribute a total of $42,500 in the 2021/22 financial year: $27,500 up to the new cap in the 2021/22 financial year, plus the $15,000 worth of unused contributions carried forward from the year before, when the cap was $25,000. If you maximised your contributions in 2020/21, your new rolling five-year period would then begin in 2021/22.

Concessional contributions, which include your employer contributions, are from your pre-tax salary. You can make these contributions through salary sacrifice, or personal deductible contributions.

Watch this short video to learn more about the different ways you can boost your super:

Bring forward unused non-concessional contributions

The amount you can contribute to your super each financial year from your after-tax salary is currently capped at $110,000, but a special rule can help you maximise this amount.

If your total superannuation balance is below $1.7 million as of the previous 30 June and you are aged under 67 at any point during the current financial year, you may be able to make up to three years’ worth of after-tax contributions in one year by tapping into your future cap space in advance.

As the annual cap for non-concessional, or after-tax, contributions is currently $110,000, this means you could bring forward your cap from the 2022/23 and 2023/24 financial years to contribute up to $330,000 in one financial year.

The amount you may be able to contribute depends on your total superannuation balance. You learn learn more via the ATO.

You can also check the concessional and non-concessional contributions you’ve made to your Qantas Super account by logging in.

Consider your insurance needs

Depending on the type of break you take from work, there may be a change to your insurance cover in Qantas Super.

If you remain an employee at the Qantas Group taking unpaid leave, and your premiums continue to be paid, your basic cover for death and total and permanent disablement (TPD) will continue.

Any voluntary cover you have will continue.

However, if we don’t receive a contribution or rollover to your account for 16 months, your cover will be cancelled unless you opt-in to keep it. We will get in touch before then to let you know that you need to opt-in to keep your cover.

If your break from work will see you leave employment at the Qantas Group, your basic cover for death and TPD will automatically continue as what’s called fixed dollar basic cover – this means it won’t change with your salary, age, or membership.

Any voluntary cover you have for death only, or death and TPD will also continue.

However, your basic cover for income protection will stop 90 days after the day you leave employment with the Qantas Group.

When making voluntary contributions, remember that caps apply and that your super will be preserved until you reach retirement age. It’s important to think about your ongoing commitments before making a contribution.

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