Some employers are disheartened by the superannuation guarantee obligations placed upon them. They treat the superannuation guarantee as a “loading” on wages, either consciously or subconsciously.
This view is generally brought about by the perceived burden of reporting and paying those obligations. If an employer falls behind with the reporting obligations they can begin a downward spiral which is difficult to remedy.
If you are running your business during the day and doing the bookkeeping and payroll functions at night the focus is frequently on completing those tasks, which have immediate impact on your business. All too frequently, the payment of superannuation guarantee obligations seems to fall to the bottom half of the pile.
Currently, the method by which contributions are made is largely determined by the superannuation fund. Due to the legislative requirement of allowing the employee to choose the fund that their contributions are paid into employers are forced to deal with several funds. Typically, the contribution statement of each fund has a different format and each fund has a different requirement for payment of contributions. At the very least, a separate bank transaction must be made for each fund that the employer contributes to.
This situation would be familiar to most small business employers and only increases the stress of numerous, varying compliance requirements they face every day.
The SuperStream standard was introduced on July 1, 2014. It’s part of the Government’s Super Reform package, which will provide a consistent, reliable electronic method of transacting linked data and payments for superannuation. The goal of the standard is to simplify how employers make superannuation contributions on behalf of their employees – to improve the efficiency of the superannuation system, to improve the timeliness of processing of rollovers and contributions, and reduce the number of lost accounts and unclaimed monies.
Different electronic or paper formats and payment methods add to the time taken by employers to process superannuation payments each month or quarter. By allowing for the lodgement of all superannuation contributions in a single electronic file, SuperStream seeks to remove this burden from business.
The date by which businesses are required to implement this standard depends on the number of employees within the business. If your business has 20 employees or more, SuperStream started from July 2014, but is compulsory from July 1, 2015. If your business has less than 20 employees SuperStream becomes compulsory from June 30, 2016.
Business owners should be aware they were expected to begin implementation on July 1, 2014 where there are 20 employees or more and are expected to begin implementation by 1 July 2015 where there are fewer than 20 employees.
SuperStream uses a clearing house as a central deposit point for all of your superannuation guarantee payments. The clearing house then disburses the payments to the individual accounts of your employees. The goal is to remove the burden imposed on employees by the requirement of allowing the employee to choose the fund that their payments are deposited into. By using a clearing house the employer is dealing with one deposit statement and one bank transaction for all employees.
Preparing for the implementation of the SuperStream standard may take time and may require the gathering of additional information. As such it is recommended that business owners start now and do not leave implementation until the last minute. Businesses that are caught short may face penalties for not implementing the standard on time.
You will most likely need to update your payroll software to a SuperStream ready version. Please contact your software provider or your accountant to determine if this is required.
As SuperStream requires the electronic submission of data and payments it may be more economical for those using a manual payroll system to switch to a computerised payroll system. If you are using a manual payroll system I would highly recommend talking to your accountant prior to switching to a computerised system as they may be in a position to offer a more economical alternative utilising their software.
The following steps are recommended for a smooth transition to the SuperStream payment system:
1. Contact your default superannuation fund to determine what additional information, if any, is required;
2. Contact your accounting software or payroll services provider to ensure that the version used is SuperStream ready;
3. Contact the other superannuation funds that your employees choose to have their superannuation guarantee paid into to advise them which SuperStream provider you will be using. This is purely to ensure that you do not continue to receive unnecessary correspondence from those funds that you will no longer be dealing with directly.
You do not need to try to navigate the implementation of the SuperStream standard alone. You can ask for assistance from:
• Your accountant;
• Your bookkeeper;
• Your business advisor; or
• Your default industry superannuation fund.
It is my personal opinion the utilisation of SuperStream will ease the burden of complying with the superannuation guarantee requirements and, as a result, make it easier for employers to comply with those requirements.