SuperStream: a step-by-step guide to help employers prepare for the new rules

If your business has employees, then you should be getting ready for the new SuperStream rules, which are due to start for all businesses within the next 12 months. Employers with 20 or more employees were required to start using the new SuperStream standards from 1 July 2014, effectively meaning that the quarter ended 30 September 2014 is likely to be their first experience of the new requirements.

Employers with 19 or fewer employees are not required to conform to the SuperStream standard until 1 July 2015.

(The ATO has indicated it will allow some flexibility in the implementation of the new processes – until 30 June 2015 for large employers and 30 June 2016 for smaller employers – but only where employers can show they are doing their best to implement the new system, and have a firm plan to do so.)

Regardless of the anticipated start date, however, all employers should be ensuring they have the processes in place to comply with the requirements, and employers who are ready before these dates can start earlier – there is no need to wait.

(Note: Your business won't have to worry about SuperStream if contributions are sent to a related-party SMSF from a related-party employer. You can use your existing processes.)

Step 1: Assess your options
There is no single solution for making SuperStream contributions. You should look for a solution that suits your needs. Ideally, you want something that integrates with your payroll process.

If you have a payroll system, you should look for updated or new SuperStream compliant products coming onto the market.

If you rely on external partners, check what they are planning to do and scan the market for emerging products or opportunities. Speak to your payroll software provider or clearing house about their SuperStream plans.

If you are outsourcing, speak to your payroll or accounting services provider.

If you rely on your default super fund for assistance with contributions, you should speak to them.

In addition, small businesses (those with 19 or fewer employees) can access the free, online Small Business Superannuation Clearing House (SBSCH). 

Step 2: Set a target start date
Utilising the required start dates above, you should look to make your first SuperStream contributions as soon as you reasonably can after the listed start dates.

Once you have identified your solution and timing, you should contact your service provider to work out a target start date that works for you.

Your default super fund may also be a good source of advice. You will generally need at least three months before your target date to get ready – however, this may be much less depending on the solution you choose.

Step 3: Collect new information
There is a minimum set of data you need to collect for new and existing employees.

New information required

Fund type

Fund's ABN

All funds

Unique superannuation identifier (USI)

APRA-regulated funds only

Bank account details


Electronic service address


Employee tax file number (TFN)

All funds

Where to collect the information:

  1. For existing employees where you are paying to your default APRA-regulated fund, all you will need is the fund's USI. Your default fund or your service provider will provide you with this. Note: The USI is the key to obtaining the bank account details and electronic service address for the contribution.
  2. For existing employees, where you are paying to a choice APRA-regulated fund, all you will usually need is the fund's USI. To collect this, you should: (a) contact your service provider; or (b) check with the fund. You can look for this information on the fund's website, or if you still are unable to obtain the right information, you can try contacting the fund itself.
  3. For existing employees, where you are paying to a SMSF, your employees will supply the information specific to their fund. This includes the SMSF's bank account details and their electronic service address (in the form of an 'alias' – which is an easy-to-use name).
  4. For any new employees who select a choice fund, the new Standard Choice Form will contain the information you need: (a) for APRA-regulated funds, employees will provide a USI that you or your service provider can use to obtain the required information; or (b) for SMSFs, employees will provide the alias (electronic service address) and bank account details.
Step 4: Update your payroll records

Once you've collected the new information, you'll need to update your payroll records.

You could do this manually if the number of records is small, but you should add the information to a payroll system wherever possible.

If your payroll software provider has not yet released a SuperStream-compliant version, you may need to check with them about which user-defined fields would best serve the function of temporarily holding this data and provide continuity with future upgrades.

If you work with a clearing house, bureau or other external provider, you will need to arrange how and when this information is forwarded to them (or updated in their records). Because they are working on your behalf, the SuperStream standard does not prescribe how you send this information to them. You can send it in hard copy, via an electronic file or enter it directly to a system they provide.

Step 5: Upgrade your payroll system
If you use payroll software, your software provider will be able to tell you whether an upgrade is required and, if so, when they intend to release a SuperStream-compliant version of their product. You will need to organise an upgrade and testing process with your supplier.

Depending on when you start getting ready, you may be able to complete this step before updating your payroll records (step 4).

Step 6: Connect to your provider
Depending on the solution you choose, you may need to arrange connections and security log-in credentials with your service provider or default super fund.

Some default super funds may offer an online application where you can upload files as an alternative to the SuperStream standard message format.

If you choose to use this alternative channel, you must sign an agreement with that fund (typically an online acceptance clause on your first time through).

Step 7: Make your first SuperStream contributions
If you have worked through all the steps of this checklist, you should now be ready to make your first SuperStream contribution.

You should plan to have dedicated resources to support the first-time through experience and deal with any issues as soon as they arise. Good communication with your key service provider and/or default super fund will be critical in ensuring this is a success.

You should have a contingency plan in case there are problems with your first SuperStream contribution. This might be as simple as a fallback plan to manual processes (mail and cheque) or using an alternative electronic channel.

If there are problems, ensure your super guarantee obligations are met, and then work with your solution provider to resolve the problems as quickly as possible.

If you are processing contributions yourself, you need to include a unique payment reference number with each payment – remembering that you need a payment for each fund or product you are sending contributions to.

You will need to:

  • run a trial payroll balance for your contributions with a subtotal for each fund
  • process your payments and generate a unique reference number associated with each payment
  • copy these reference numbers and add them back into your contribution files before you send the files as data messages.

This ensures your data and payments are 'linked' and can always be reconciled by receiving funds.

If you have outsourced payments to a service provider, your provider will generally only need a single payment from you and will generate the reference numbers and match the data and payments on your behalf.

As usual, should you have any questions in relation to any aspect of the SuperStream requirements, you should contact your Goodwin Chivas & Co advisor on (02) 9899 3044.



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