THE racing industry is set to be hit this week by a multimillion-dollar superannuation claim from jockeys that could stretch back as far as 20 years.
Fairfax Media understands the Australian Jockeys Association wants the legislated 9 per cent superannuation guarantee applied to race-riding fees and barrier-trial fees for jockeys. The bill would come to more than $3 million per season and backpay could be enforced for a number of years. If it was applied for 20 years, it could be in the tens of millions - enough to seriously hit the coffers of the racing industry.
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The AJA will seek a meeting with the Australian Racing Board as a matter of urgency after receiving advice from the Australian Tax Office.
The board, as the principal national body, would negotiate with the AJA as representative of the racing organisations in each state, including Racing New South Wales and Racing Victoria.
ARB chief executive Peter McGauran would not comment other than to say: ''There has been no formal or informal approach by the Australia Jockeys Association to Australian Racing Board.''
The Superannuation Guarantee Act 1992 requires employers to provide a minimum level of super for their employees. The standard riding fee is an employment contract, so would fall under this law.
However, the 5 per cent of prizemoney paid to a jockey does not coming under the super guarantee.
The standard riding fee varies from state to state but is set at $175 in Victoria, which would make the compulsory contribution of $15.75 from racing bodies, which distribute the payments.
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The bill would be more than $3 million around the country for season 2010-11, in which there were 190,258 starters, once barrier-trial riding fees are included.
As the superannuation has not been paid, racing bodies would also be open to fines and penalties under the tax act.
The AJA has become a strong representative of its members in recent years, including when it orchestrated a snap strike over changes to the whip rules in September 2009.
The payment of super would make little difference to jockeys riding at the top level, who are well paid and well advised, but would be a boon for the hundreds of riders who are not competing in the big time.
However, it will deliver a safety net for all jockeys and give them enforced savings for later in life.
The central argument is that there are 44 race meetings on Melbourne Cup day across Australia and the jockeys, who are central to the show, are not getting the benefits that punters on the other side of the fence receive in their jobs.
The claim would also apply to harness racing, in which drivers are paid fees without any superannuation component.