Superannuation, or 'super', is money put aside by your employer over your working life for you to live on when you retire from work.
Super is important for you, because the more you save, the more money you will have for your retirement.
You can only withdraw your super money in certain circumstances – for example, when you retire or turn 65 years old.
For most people, your employer pays money – ‘contributions’ – into a super account for you. This is called the ‘super guarantee’. They pay these contributions on top of your salary and wages. There are laws about how much super your employer must pay.
From 1 July 2022, your employer may need to contribute to your super regardless of how much you are paid per month. If you're under 18, you need to work more than 30 hours in a week to be eligible.
Your eligibility is determined when you are paid salary and wages, not when the income is earned. This means if you are paid on or after 1 July 2022, you will be paid super regardless of how much you have earned. This applies even if some of the pay period is before 1 July 2022.
Up until 1 July 2022, you needed to be paid $450 or more (before tax) in a calendar month to be paid super.
This applies whether you work casual, part-time or full-time hours, and if you are a temporary resident. You may also be eligible if you are a contractor who is paid primarily for labour, even if you have an Australian business number (ABN).
Your employer is required to pay a minimum amount based on the current super guarantee rate of your ordinary time earnings into super. This is set to gradually rise over the coming years.
Ordinary time earnings are what you generally earn for ordinary hours of work, including over-award payments, certain bonuses, allowances, and some paid leave. Payments for overtime hours are generally not included in ordinary time earnings.
You can also add your own money into your super savings, and sometimes the Australian Government puts money in too.
Talk to your employer. Ask them:
- how often they are paying your super
- which fund they are paying it into
- how much they are paying.
You can also use the Estimate my super tool to work out if:
- you are eligible for super guarantee contributions
- your employer is paying the correct amount.
Check your last Member statement from your super fund or contact the fund to confirm your employer has paid your super.
If you still believe your employer is not paying the super you're entitled to, you can phone us on 13 10 20.
Beware of promoters offering various plans to gain early access to your super savings before you retire. The promoters of these plans will tell you they can help you access your super savings for reasons such as paying off debts, buying a house or car, or even going on holiday. These schemes are illegal and heavy penalties apply if you participate.
Example: Phil avoids a trap
I’ve been saving up for a car for the last few months. One of my workmates told me about his friend, who can help me draw out some of my super money to help pay for the car.
Luckily, I checked the ATO website and found out it was illegal. The money I would have taken out would have been taxed at 45%. I would have also faced fines and possibly jail time on top of that – a very expensive mistake.End of example
This information is also available in other languages.
Most people can choose the super fund they want their contributions paid into. If you’re eligible, your employer must give you a Superannuation standard choice form within 28 days of the day you started working for them, so you can make that choice in writing.
From 1 November 2021, your employer may have an extra step to take to comply with choice of fund rules if you don’t choose a super fund. They may need to request details of a stapled super fund from us if you do not nominate a super fund.
A stapled super fund is an existing super account which is linked, or 'stapled', to an individual employee so that it follows them as they change jobs.
We will notify you if your employer makes a stapled super fund request and the fund details we have provided.
All employers have a nominated super fund, or ‘default fund’, where they make super guarantee payments for their employees who have not selected a preferred fund and do not have a stapled super fund.
If you want to have your contributions paid into an existing super account but can’t remember your super fund account details, you can use myGov to see all of your super accounts.
The YourSuper comparison tool will help you compare MySuper products and choose a super fund that meets your needs.
It's never too early to engage with your super. Choose your own super fund and engage regularly because the choices you make today will help shape lifestyle options for you in the future.
Making sure your super fund has your Tax File Number (TFN) will make it easier to keep track of your super, move it between accounts, and receive super payments from your employer or the government.
You can check whether your fund has your TFN by looking at the statements they send you.
Keep track of your super using myGov
You can create a myGov account and link the ATO to it so you can:
- see details of all your super accounts, including any you have lost track of or forgotten about
- use the YourSuper comparison tool to compare the performance and fees of your super accounts against other MySuper products
- find ATO-held super. If the government, your super fund or your employer can't find an account to transfer your super to, we hold it on your behalf
- combine multiple super accounts by transferring your super into your preferred super account – if this is a fund-to-fund transfer, it will generally be actioned within three working days.
- Create or sign in to your myGov accountExternal Link and link to the ATO
- Use our online services
- Access myGov via the ATO app
As well as the contributions your employer pays, you can add to your super by making your own contributions. You may be able to ‘salary sacrifice’ to super from your before-tax income or contribute to super from your after-tax income.
There are limits called ‘caps’ on the amount you can contribute to your super each financial year without having to pay additional tax. If you contribute more than these caps, you may have to pay additional tax. If you are planning on contributing more than $27,500 to your super (including employer contributions), seek advice from a suitably qualified professional.
If you’re a low-income or middle-income earner, you may be eligible for super contributions from the Australian Government.
Lodge your tax return so we can check if you are eligible for a super co-contribution payment up to $500. It's important you lodge a return even if you don't think you will get a refund. You don't need to apply for the super co-contribution.
Generally, you can access your super money when you retire. However, there are some circumstances where you can access your super savings early, such as severe financial hardship and specific medical conditions.
If you legitimately need some of your preserved super earlier, ask your super fund about whether you may be able to access it before applying.
Temporary residents leaving Australia
If you are a temporary resident working in Australia and you are eligible for super, your employer has to make super guarantee contributions for you. You may be paid your super money once you have left Australia. This payment is called a Departing Australia super payment (DASP).
New Zealand citizens and permanent residents of Australia are not eligible for this payment.
To see if you're eligible, and to apply for the DASP online or by downloading the paper application form, visit Temporary residents and super.
Super money from overseas
If you are bringing your own money or pension funds from overseas, there may be special tax rules you need to know about. Speak to your financial adviser or migration agent.
If you want to know more about super, visit ato.gov.au/individuals/super or phone us on 13 10 20.
If you do not speak English well and want to talk to a tax officer, phone the Translating and Interpreting Service on 13 14 50 for help with your call.A basic guide about what superannuation is, how to save it and what you can do to grow it.