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  • Employment and payroll records – business

    As an employer, it's important that you understand your record-keeping obligations when it comes to your employees.

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    Employees and contractors

    Your tax, superannuation and employer obligations, and the records you need to keep, will vary depending on whether your worker is an employee or a contractor so it's important you know the difference.

    Reporting payments to your employees through Single Touch Payroll (STP) doesn't change your existing record-keeping obligations. There are no additional records you need to keep.

    Records for payments made to employees

    Employee payments records information and examples

    Information your records need to show

    Examples of types of records

    Payments of your employees':

    • salaries and wages
    • bonuses
    • allowances or other kinds of payments, including
      • tips and gratuities (you need to show what amounts have been paid to your employees and what you retain)
      • termination payments
      • redundancy payments
      • leave payments.

    Tax file number declarations or employee tax details summary printout from ATO online services

    Withholding declarations, including withholding variation notices, you obtain from employees

    Worker payment records

    Records of wages, allowances and other payments made to workers

    Single Touch Payroll reports

    Records of payments made to all payees

    Payment summaries or income statements

    Reconciliation of daily sales and cash payments book, if paying wages in cash

    If your employees receive tips, we also recommend you develop and apply a written policy to deal with, at a minimum, how you:

    • collect and record tips you receive from customers
    • distribute tips to your staff (and how often)
    • will resolve any disputes about the policy.

    As an employer, you may have responsibilities under the Privacy Act, including the Privacy (Tax File Number) Rule 2015 that regulates the collection, storage, use, disclosure, security and disposal of individuals' TFN information. For more information, see the Tax file numbersExternal Link guidance published by the Office of the Information Commissioner (OAIC).

    How long to keep employee payments records

    You need to keep these records for five years. The five years starts from when you prepared or obtained the records, completed the transactions or acts those records relate to, whichever is later.

    You should keep records long enough to cover the period of review (also known as the amendment period) for an assessment that uses information from the record. For records connected to an assessment that's amended, the period of review for that amended assessment starts from the day after we give you the notice of amended assessment.

    For more information about hiring, see:

    Records for super contributions for employees

    You must keep records that adequately explain your super transactions for your employees. Even if you use a clearing house to distribute super to your employees' funds, you're still responsible for keeping adequate records of super guarantee payments.

    Records for super contributions

    Information your records need to show

    Examples of types of records

    How you worked out the amount of super you contributed for each employee

    Factors that affect the amount of super you must contribute, such as advice you have received from trustees about the funds to which you contribute

    Salary sacrifice amounts, including information about how they're calculated and employee's choice

    If you fail to meet your super obligations and are liable to pay the super guarantee charge, you must also keep details of how you worked out the amounts shown in your super guarantee charge statement

    Bank statement showing payment to a super fund, Retirement Savings Account (RSA) or super clearing house

    Confirmation from a SuperStream compliant payroll system, super fund online system or super clearing house showing a successful payment

    Receipts or other documents issued by super funds showing that you have made super contributions for employees to their chosen fund

    Contribution receipts showing the date, contribution period, amount, fund and member account number for each employee

    Documents that can show how you worked out the amount of super paid for each employee

    Documents required to work out the super guarantee shortfall for an employee for a quarter

    You need to keep super contributions records for 5 years from the date of the contribution.

    Records for super fund choice for your employees

    Records for super fund choice

    Information your records need to show

    Examples of types of records

    For employees eligible to choose which super fund they want you to pay into, you will need to keep records:

    • showing you have offered eligible employees the choice
    • of the written information provided by an employee nominating their chosen fund or RSA.

    For employees who aren't eligible to choose their fund, keep records of:

    • why employees haven't been offered a choice
    • which employees you don't have to offer a choice of super fund to.

    You will also need to keep records to confirm that:

    • your nominated (default) fund offers a MySuper product
    • the super fund meets specific requirements and obligations under super law.

    Completed Superannuation standard choice form

    Evidence that you have given the Standard choice form to all eligible employees (for example, you may issue this form by email and retain copies of the emails)

    Details of any employees you don't have to offer a choice of super fund to

    Super fund choice records need to be kept for 5 years from the date of employee engagement or when an employee is offered, chooses or changes their choice of fund.

    If you make super contributions under an award or employment agreement, this may impose additional record-keeping obligations, so check your relevant award or regulation.

    Records for pay as you go withholding (PAYG withholding)

    Record-keeping requirements for PAYG withholding are covered in PAYG records.

    Records for fringe benefits provided

    Record-keeping requirements for fringe benefits provided are covered in Fringe benefits tax return records.

    Last modified: 16 Sep 2022QC 60750