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  • Stapled super funds for employers

    How to request stapled super fund details from us for new employees that don't choose a super fund.

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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.

    This webcast guides you through the steps to request your employee's stapled super fund details:

    Media: Your Future Your Super – Employer Webcast Link (Duration: 24:56)

    For more information, download our Stapled super funds Reference guide for employers (PDF, 406KB)This link will download a file.

    When to request stapled super fund details

    You need to request stapled super fund details for new employees when:

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

    For employees that started working for you on or after 1 November 2021 and have not provided you with a valid choice of super fund, you should make contributions into:

    • the employee's stapled super fund, or
    • your employer nominated account (if we advise you that they do not have a stapled super fund).

    If an employee later tells you their choice of super fund, you have 2 months to start paying contributions into that fund.

    Steps to requesting stapled super fund details

    Before you can request stapled super fund details, you need to have offered all eligible employees a choice of super fund.

    Before you make a stapled fund request:

    • check ATO online services and Access Manager permissions
    • establish an employment relationship.

    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 into their chosen account.

    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.

    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.

    For more information on how you can communicate to your employees about super choices without breaking the law see the ASIC websiteExternal Link.

    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
    • 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 can request your employee’s stapled super fund details after you submit 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 this link is available in time for you to make a request before your SG 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, or
    • providing you with the required information through your payroll software.

    An STP pay event is a file generated by STP-enabled software or solutions. 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.

    It is up to you to determine the best option within your business practices. We've identified several employment relationship scenarios and their requirements:

    Employing contractors entitled to SG contributions

    Your contractors might not be included in your STP pay events, which means you will not have an employment relationship with them in our systems.

    You 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 need to include:

    • Topic: Superannuation
    • Subject: Other
    • Description: include reference to ‘Stapled super fund request for contractor’
    • Attachments  

    Incomplete employee information

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

    • 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 provide the following guidance to assist employers to meet both the choice of fund rules and pay slip requirements in this situation. The regulations which outline relevant pay slip requirements were recently amended and now provide an exemption from including the name or number of a new employee's super fund on a pay slip if:

    • the pay slip is required to be given to the employee within the period of 14 days commencing on the first day the employer pays an amount to the employee in relation to the performance of work, and
    • by the time the pay slip is given to the employee
      • the employee has not provided you with a completed Superannuation standard choice form, and
      • we have not notified you or your agent whether we are satisfied there is a stapled fund for the employee and, if there is, the details of that fund.   

    See the Fair Work Ombudsman website for more information on pay slip requirementsExternal Link.

    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 must still include the amount of any SG contributions you are liable to pay for the period.

    This will establish the employment relationship link so you can make a stapled super fund request and determine the employee's relevant super fund details.

    Employment relationship not established

    In most cases, submitting a Tax file number declaration or STP pay event establishes that you have an employment relationship or link to your employee. Once this link is established, you can submit a stapled fund request for that employee.

    If you follow this process but receive a stapling request outcome of ‘We cannot confirm an employment relationship’, there may have been problems processing the TFN declaration or STP pay event. The steps to rectify this depend on when you will lodge your next STP pay event.

    Will you lodge another STP pay event before the SG due date?

    • If yes, wait until you lodge your next STP pay event. The next day, submit another stapled super fund request for the employee. If the outcome is still ‘We cannot confirm an employment relationship’, contact us on 13 10 20 for assistance.
    • If no, contact us on 13 10 20 for assistance.

    Request stapled super fund details

    To request stapled super fund details in ATO online services, you, or an authorised representative, need to:

    1. Log into ATO online services for businessExternal Link.
    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 can 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 uses 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 notify your employee of the stapled super fund request and the fund details we provided. If the request was made on your behalf by an authorised representative, we notify you of the outcome of that request.

    We monitor the service to ensure employers are using it appropriately and making genuine requests for stapled super fund details. If you are using the service incorrectly, such as to request information for employees who started before 1 November 2021, we may remove your access.

    To avoid penalties, you must pay SG contributions to a stapled super fund if you requested the details for your employee from us and we provided them. If the employee has later provided you with a choice of super fund, penalties do not apply.

    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 needs to contact us to give you authority to request stapled super fund details on their behalf.

    Make a bulk request

    You can complete a bulk request form if:

    • you need to request stapled super fund details for over 100 new employees at once
    • you have an employment relationship link with each of the new employees.

    Bulk requests have a service standard of up to 14 business days. We recommend allowing extra time for bulk requests that are close to your super payment due dates.

    You can download and complete the Stapled super fund bulk request (XLSX, 352KB)This link will download a file

    You or an authorised representative, can submit the bulk request form through the secure mail function using ATO online services, noting:

    • you should only submit one form 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 contains the file submitted to us with the outcomes of the stapled super fund request for each employee.

    Bulk request process decommissioning

    The bulk request process will be decommissioned in 2023. The bulk process is an interim service made available to support employers until the business software solution is available.

    The business software solution will allow you to request stapled super fund details from within business software, rather than making separate requests via ATO online services. If you are currently using the bulk request process we encourage you to discuss your software solutions with your software provider.

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

    You may have to pay the choice shortfall penalty, which is the additional super guarantee charge (SGC), 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
    • pay the employee’s full SG 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.

    What if the stapled super fund we provide does not accept your SG payment?

    If the stapled super fund we provide you rejects your SG payment, you will need to find an alternate super fund to make the SG payment to, by either:

    • asking your employee to provide you with a completed Superannuation standard choice form, to nominate the alternative super fund
    • requesting stapled super fund details from us for the employee again.

    Contact us on 13 10 20 for an alternate fund if your online request gives you the same fund details. If an alternate fund cannot be determined, we will tell you that you can contribute to your default fund.

    Did this make your SG payment late?

    If you don't make your SG payment on time and to the right fund, you have to pay the SGC. You must also lodge an SGC statement to us.

    However, if your SG payment is late as a direct result of the stapled fund rejecting your SG payment, you may be eligible for a reduction in the amount of SGC you have to pay.

    To be eligible for an SGC reduction, you must have:

    • been notified of the employee's stapled super fund details by us
    • made an SG payment to the stapled super fund before the due date and that payment was rejected
    • made a subsequent SG payment to an alternate super fund, and
    • lodged an SGC statement.

    If you took all the above steps and want to request a reduction in the resulting SGC liability, contact us on 13 10 20.

    Last modified: 25 Jan 2023QC 66591