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Stapled super funds for employers

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

Last updated 19 June 2024

About stapled super funds

See our webcast for steps to request your employee's stapled super fund details:

Media: Your Future Your Super – Employer Webcast) in a new window (Duration: 24:56)

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.

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 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 either:

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

For new employees that have not chosen a super fund, you must make contributions into either:

  • the employee's stapled super fund
  • your employer nominated account (if we advise you that they don't have a stapled super fund).

If your employee started working for you before 1 November 2021, you don’t need to request a stapled super fund. You can pay SG into their chosen fund, or your default super fund if there is no valid fund.

If an employee chooses a super fund after you have requested stapled super fund details, you have 2 months to start paying contributions into that fund. Any payments you make prior to using the chosen fund must be in accordance with the stapled super fund response provided by us.

Steps to requesting stapled super fund details

Before you make a stapled fund request, you need to:

Offer your employees a choice of super fund

You need to offer your eligible employees a choice of super fund and pay into their chosen account. This includes independent contractors who are employees for super purposes.

Most employees are eligible to choose what fund their super goes into. If your employee doesn't choose a super fund, you need to request their stapled super fund details from us.

You can't provide recommendations or advice about super to your employees. Only advisors licensed by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) can provide this financial advice.

See guidance on the ASIC website for communicating with employeesOpens in a new window about super fund choices.

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, 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.

You need to meet the same requirements when using payroll software to request stapled super fund details.

Establish an employment relationship

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

This may mean a change to your current employee onboarding 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, either by:

  • completing the 'New employee commencement' form in their ATO online account through myGov and providing you with a copy
  • providing you with a paper form
  • providing you with the required information through your payroll software.

An STP pay event is a file generated by STP-enabled software or solutions. You must lodge this file 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 as a guide:

Independent contractors entitled to SG contributions

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

You need to request an independent 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 independent contractor’
  • Attachments  

Incomplete employee information

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

  • you have no TFN declaration
  • 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. You are exempt from including the name or number of a new employee's super fund if:

  • the pay slip is required to be given to the employee within 14 days, commencing on the first day the employer pays an amount to the employee for work, and
  • by the time the pay slip is given to the employee
    • the employee hasn't provided you with a completed Superannuation standard choice form, and
    • we haven't 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 information on pay slip requirementsOpens in a new window.

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’, phone us on 13 10 20 for assistance.

If no, phone us on 13 10 20 for assistance.

Request stapled super fund details

ATO online services

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

  1. Log in to ATO online services for businessOpens in a new window.
  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 – you can enter an exemption code 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 – to request stapled super fund details for additional employees, tick a box under 'more employees to request?'.
  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 an authorised representative made the request on your behalf, 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 according to the stapled super fund response we provide. Unless the employee has later chosen a different super fund and you pay contributions to that super fund instead.

Unable to access online services

If you're unable to access online services, phone 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.

Payroll software

Your payroll software may allow you to make requests directly from the product. Please contact your software provider:

  • to find out if it is available to you
  • for instructions how to use the service in your payroll software.

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
  • 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 in 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 your 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 continuing

The bulk request process will no longer be decommissioned in March 2024. However, it remains an interim service that may be decommissioned in the future.

The payroll software solution is available for software providers to incorporate into their software. It allows you to request stapled super fund details from within payroll 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.

If you haven’t made a request when you should

If you contributed to a super fund your employee did not choose without making a stapled super fund request, you will have both a:

  • choice shortfall penalty
  • super guarantee charge (SGC).

You should immediately request a stapled super fund for your employee. 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 haven't provided you with their choice of fund
  • pay the employee’s full SG contribution to the stapled super fund we return to you in your request
  • pay the contribution to the stapled super fund by the quarterly due date.

If the fund does not accept your SG payment

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

Phone us on 13 10 20 for an alternate fund if your online request gives you the same stapled super 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 must:

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, phone us on 13 10 20.