Does SuperStream streamline superannuation payments?
If you’re a small business with nineteen or fewer employees, then come July 1 this year you’ll need to begin making superannuation contributions for your staff using SuperStream, the government reform introduced last year to improve the efficiency of Australia’s superannuation system.
The purpose of SuperStream is to ensure employer contributions are paid in a consistent and timely manner, while also setting a common standard for how super contributions should be managed, which had previously been lacking from legislation relating to superannuation contributions. Medium-large businesses with more than twenty employees have been able to use SuperStream since July 1 last year and have until June 30 this year to become compliant. From July 1 this year, small businesses with nineteen or fewer employees will until June 30 2016 to meet the SuperStream requirements for their business.
What’s the benefit to employers?
Prior to the reforms, there was no standard for making super contributions. This meant that employers could choose to make superannuation contributions as frequently or infrequently as they liked, providing they made them at some point over a the course of an employee’s employment with them. SuperStream now makes regular contributions mandatory and easy to comply with. Other benefits to employers include:
- The opportunity to use a single channel when dealing with super funds, regardless of how many funds your employees contribute to
- Reducing the time spent dealing with employee data issues and fund queries
- Offering greater automation and reduced cost of processing contributions and payments
- More timely flow of information and money in meeting your superannuation obligations.
What measures will businesses need to adopt to use SuperStream?
Businesses can use software that conforms to SuperStream requirements – MYOB released a software update for most of its products, which is SuperStream compliant, for instance – or a provider who can meet the SuperStream requirements on their behalf. The ATO recommends investigating the following options:
- Upgrading payroll software
- Using an outsourced payroll function or service provider
- Using a commercial clearing house or the Small Business Superannuation Clearing House (for businesses with fewer than twenty employees).
We haven’t made any updates in our MYOB Training Payroll Course for this, but we’re keeping a watchful eye.
What if your business mainly uses contractors?
If you employ contractors to work for you, either on a one-off or ongoing basis, you will still need to make super contributions on their behalf, which means you’ll also need to make sure you’re compliant with the SuperStream requirements. You’ll need to make superannuation contributions to a contractor if they have a contract with your business where:
- The contract is wholly for labour and skills
- They perform the work personally
- They are paid for the number of hours worked
In this case, they’re considered an employee for the purposes of the superannuation guarantee, so you’ll need to ensure you’re also compliant with SuperStream, even if that contractor has an ABN and invoices you.
You won’t have to pay the superannuation guarantee for a contractor if the person is hired to complete a specific task for which they are paid to complete only, and they are responsible for fixing any defects to the work.
If you hire contractors to provide mainly labour services on a regular basis, where they are paid for the time they spend working, rather than on a project basis, for the purpose of SuperStream, they will be counted as employees. If you have more than twenty contractors that fit this description, you need to ensure you’re compliant wit SuperStream by June 30 this year; if you’ve fewer than twenty, you have until June 30 2016 to become SuperStream compliant.
It’s a good idea to review the SuperStream section of the ATO’s website for more information on SuperStream or visit the section on contractors if you’re unsure whether you should be making super contribution on your contractor’s behalf.