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  • Stapled super funds for employers

    From 1 November 2021, if you have new employees start and they don't choose a super fund, you may have an extra step to take to comply with choice of fund rules. You may need to request their ‘stapled super fund’ details from us.

    For a summary of what you need to know, download our Stapled super funds Reference guide for employers (PDF, 406KB)This link will download a file.

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    Stapled super funds

    A stapled super fund is an existing super account linked, or 'stapled', to an individual employee so it follows them as they change jobs. This aims to reduce account fees, avoiding new super accounts being opened every time an employee starts a new job. If you don't meet your choice of super fund obligations, additional penalties may apply.

    We have a webcast which guides you through the changes and steps you'll need to take to request your employees stapled super funds.

    Media: Your Future Your Super – Employer Webcast
    http://tv.ato.gov.au/ato-tv/media?v=nixx79jdk81466External Link (Duration: 24:56)

    When to request stapled super fund details

    You will need to request stapled super fund details for new employees who start on or after 1 November 2021, when:

    • you need to make super guarantee payments for that employee
    • they are eligible to choose a super fund, but don't. This includes contractors who you pay mainly for their labour and who are employees for super guarantee purposes.

    You may need to request stapled super fund details for some employees who aren't eligible to choose their own super fund.

    This includes employees that are:

    • temporary residents
    • covered by an enterprise agreement or workplace determination made before 1 January 2021.

    Once an employee tells you their choice of super fund, you have 2 months to start paying contributions into that fund. If you have received a choice of super fund form from a new employee from 1 November 2021, and you must contribute before this time, if you don’t pay to the employee's choice fund, you should pay into their stapled super fund or your employer nominated account if the ATO advises you that they do not have a stapled super fund.

    Steps to requesting stapled super fund details

    Before you can request stapled super fund details from us using ATO online services, you need to have offered all eligible employees a choice of super fund. Before we can provide a response, we'll need to be able to confirm that an employment relationship exists. There is no limit to the number of requests you can make.

    In this section

    Offer your employees a choice of super fund

    You need to offer your eligible employees, including contractors who are employees for superannuation purposes, a choice of super fund and pay their super into the account they tell you. Most employees are eligible to choose what fund their super goes into. They can choose a super account they already have or choose your default fund.

    There is no change to this step of your super obligations. If your employee has chosen a super fund, you can pay super contributions to their chosen fund. If your employee does not choose a super fund, in most circumstances you need to request a stapled super fund.

    You can't provide recommendations or advice about super to your employees, unless you are licensed by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) to provide financial advice. See giving your employees information and advice or visit ASIC’s Communicating with employees about choice of superannuation fund: What you can and cannot doExternal Link for more information on how you can communicate to your employees about superannuation choices without breaking the law.

    Check ATO online services and Access Manager permissions

    You or your authorised representatives can request stapled super fund details using ATO online services. Check and update the access levels of your authorised representatives in ATO online services so that:

    • they have either full access in ATO online services, or custom access including the 'Employee Commencement Form' permission to request stapled super fund details
    • their 'Employee Commencement Form' permission is removed when no longer needed, to protect your employees’ personal information.

    Tax practitioners are also able to make a request on your behalf through Online services for agents.

    Establish an employment relationship

    You’ll be able to request your employee’s stapled super fund details after you have submitted a Tax file number declaration or Single Touch Payroll (STP) pay event, which identifies that you have an employment relationship or link to your employee.

    This requirement may mean a change to your current onboarding requirements to ensure that this link is available in time for you to make a request before your super guarantee contributions are due.

    Your employee can complete their TFN declaration by:

    • completing the 'New employee commencement' form in their ATO Online account through myGov and providing you with a copy; or
    • providing you with a paper form.

    An STP pay event is a file generated by STP-enabled software or solution. This file must be lodged to us on, or before, the date you make a payment to your employee that is subject to PAYG withholding.

    There may be circumstances where you won't be able to establish an employment relationship or link before requesting stapled super fund details from us. We've identified a number of scenarios and what you will need to do. It is up to each employer to determine the best option within their business practices.

    Employing contractors entitled to super guarantee contributions

    Under STP phase 1, contractors are not included in your STP pay events which means you will not have an employment link with them in our systems.

    You will need to request a contractor’s stapled super fund details using the secure mail function in ATO Online services.

    When you submit the request, you will need to include:

    • Topic: Superannuation
    • Subject: Other
    • Description: include reference to ‘Stapled super fund request for contractor’
    • the written contract signed by both parties for the contracting arrangement
    • a completed and signed Contractor stapled super fund request form

    Incomplete employee information

    Sometimes you don't have enough information from your employee to run an STP pay event, such as:

    • no TFN declaration has been received
    • your payroll software won’t allow you to lodge a pay event without super details.

    We have worked with the Fair Work Ombudsman to assist employers to meet the choice of fund rules in this situation.

    If your payroll software:

    • allows you to leave the super fund information blank for the first payslip, you can do this and submit your pay event
    • requires you to include super fund information, you should include details in the fund name field indicating it is pending a stapled super fund request (for example 'Pending stapled super fund request').

    You should still include the amount of any super guarantee contributions you are liable to pay for the period.

    This will establish the employer relationship link so you can make a stapled super fund request.

    Once you have the stapled super fund details, immediately update and reissue your employee’s payslip. This will provide accurate details of the name (or name and number) of the super fund to which you will be making contributions.

    Request stapled super fund details in ATO online services

    To request a stapled super fund, you, or your authorised representative, need to:

    1. Log into ATO online services for business.
    2. Navigate to the 'Employee super account' screen via the 'Employees' menu and select 'Request' to open the form.
    3. Enter your employee's details, including their      
      • TFN – an exemption code can be entered where an employee can't provide their TFN, but this could result in processing delays
      • full name – including ‘other given name’ if known
      • date of birth
      • address (residential or postal), if TFN not given.
       
    4. Read and click the declaration to sign it. You'll also be able to tick a box under 'more employees to request?' to request stapled super fund details for additional employees.
    5. Submit your request.

    Registered Tax or BAS agents can also complete this for you in Online Services for Agents

    Our online system will use rules based on the regulations to work out and return a stapled super fund in response to a request. You should be notified of the result of the stapled super fund request (on-screen) within minutes.

    We will notify your employee of the stapled super fund request and the fund details we have provided. If the request was made on your behalf by an authorised representative, we will notify you of the outcome of that request.

    We will be monitoring the service to ensure employers are using it appropriately and making genuine requests for stapled super fund details. Employers using the service incorrectly, such as to request information for employees who started before 1 November 2021, may have their access removed.

    To avoid penalties, you must pay super guarantee contributions to a stapled super fund if you have requested stapled super fund details for your employee and we have provided these to you unless the employee has subsequently provided you with a choice of super fund.

    Unable to access online services

    If you're unable to access online services, contact us on 13 10 20 (or +61 2 6216 1111 for overseas callers) to request details of a stapled super fund.

    Before providing information over the phone, we must establish the identity of the person making the request. If you don't have access to Online Services for Business, the primary contact for your business will need to contact us to provide you with authority to request stapled super fund details on their behalf.

    Make a bulk request

    A bulk request form can be completed if you need to request stapled super fund details for over 100 new employees at once. Bulk requests will have a service standard of up to five business days.

    Before you can submit the request, you will need to have an employment relationship link with each of the new employees. You will then be able to request your employee’s stapled super fund using the bulk request form.

    You can download the Stapled super fund bulk request (XLSX, 352KB)This link will download a file and complete the information required within that form.

    Once the file is completed, you or your authorised representative, can submit it through the secure mail function using ATO online services.

    It is important to note:

    • only one form should be submitted per request
    • if you are a member of a consolidated group, each entity must submit their own forms separately
    • only an authorised person can submit a request.

    Once the file is processed, you will receive a response through the secure mail function within online services. The response message will contain the file submitted to us with the outcomes of the stapled super fund request for each employee.

    What if you haven’t made a request when you should

    We will help and support employers in the first instance as this change is introduced.

    You may have to pay the choice shortfall penalty (which is the additional super guarantee charge) if you contributed to your default fund without making a stapled super fund request.

    You should immediately request a stapled super fund for your employee and begin making contributions to the fund that is returned in response to your request.

    To avoid the choice shortfall penalty, make sure:

    • you request the stapled super fund details for your employee as soon as possible if they have not provided you with their choice of fund
    • you pay the employee’s full super guarantee contribution to the stapled super fund we return to you in the request
    • pay the contribution to the stapled super fund by the quarterly due date.
    Last modified: 24 Nov 2021QC 66591