Making sense of SuperStream

SuperStream is part of the Government’s ‘Stronger Super’ reforms, designed to enhance the ‘back office’ of superannuation by standardising how data is communicated for superannuation transactions.

Key reforms in the package are:

  • To promote superannuation identifiers (USIs) and TFNs as primary account identifiers.
  • Mandatory electronic payment methods to improve processing efficiency through electronic payment and electronic provision of data.
  • Mandatory data standards to reduce the number of lost superannuation accounts.
  • Supertick, which is the ATO’s verification service for new default fund employees.
  • Fund validation services, which is the ATO service that allows an employer to look up a super fund’s details.
  • Gateways, which are entities accredited and regulated by the ATO that will transfer data and payments between super funds and employers.

Over time, these reforms will allow for more automated processing of contributions. This automation should result in contributions being allocated to members’ accounts faster and more accurately and should reduce the costs for processing contributions across the superannuation system.

From 1 July 2014, new data standards applied to super transactions, including employer SG contributions. The new standards aim to make processing super payments easier and result in fewer data quality issues leading to faster and more accurate processing of contributions and member accounts.

As part of these reforms, employers are required to send contribution data and certain prescribed member personal details in a standard electronic format. The new data standards now apply and funds will no longer allow cheque contributions or paper remittances.

If you are using Employer Portal or MercerSpectrum for your super administration, you have already satisfied the requirement to comply with the electronic standards. 

If you’re unsure whether the super administration system you’re using is compliant, please contact your local Business Development Manager or call the Employer Hotline on 1800 640 886.

For more information about SuperStream see our Stronger Super - Employer obligations fact sheet.

FAQ

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions in relation to SuperStream and meeting the new standard. If you can’t find an answer to your question, contact one of our Business Development Managers – they’re ready to help you.

Does SuperStream apply to me?

Yes, SuperStream applies to all employers making super contributions for their employees; it also applies to Self-Managed Super Funds (SMSFs) which receive contributions*.

*An employer that pays into a SMSF and is also the owner of the business is not required to meet the new standard.

Are there any fees for using a clearing house?

Many super funds are offering a subsidised (transaction fee-free) clearing house solution. Check with your fund. At present, Media Super’s Employer Portal and MercerSpectrum are free of charge; however, MercerSpectrum reserves the right to charge a fee at any time. Please see the Employer Portal Product Disclosure Statement and MercerSpectrum Product Disclosure Statement for further details on fees and charges.

Is it compulsory to use a clearing house?

No, but most employers do. The advantage of a clearing house is all the money (and data) is sent to one place (the clearing house), which is then sent to the super funds. The alternative to using a clearing house involves the employer sending separate payments to each super fund, but sending the data to an approved data agent (or gateway).

All employers with Media Super members can use the Employer Portal clearing house to make contributions, regardless of how many employees you’re making contributions for. 

We pay quarterly but we also have some members which have after-tax voluntary contributions which are required to be paid monthly. How do we do this if we have to upload an electronic file?

A well designed clearing house will allow the employer to operate different pay runs and separate electronic submissions for different groups of employees (in this case, quarterly Superannuation Guarantee contributions are paid and monthly voluntary contributions). Media Super’s Employer Portal and MercerSpectrum have this flexibility. If you are not using these systems, you should check if your clearing house has this flexibility.

If you pay by EFT to a fund, do you also have to send details to that fund about the payment electronically?

Yes, the details about the contribution (name of employee, address, date of birth, gender, and TFN) need to be sent separately in a compliant format. If you pay all the super funds directly yourself, you need to find a data agent or gateway that sends the data in a compliant format. You also have to provide a Payment Reference Number that matches the data of each employee you pay to each fund (if you use a clearing house, this will be done for you automatically).

Is it up to the Employer to confirm that all employees’ choice of super fund is compliant?

Yes. The employer is legally obligated to check that the super fund they are paying contributions to is a complying superannuation fund. They can lose the deductibility of the contributions if they pay to a fund that is not complying (e.g. the ABN provided by the employee does not match a valid complying super fund).

If your default fund is Media Super, one of the advantages of using a solution like Employer Portal or MercerSpectrum is that it helps you with compliance checks – you can search a fund name and the system will check whether it’s compliant. If your default fund is not Media Super, you should check if your clearing house has a complying fund validation tool.

If an employee doesn't provide correct information, can you pay their contributions to the default fund?

Yes, you can pay the contributions to the employer’s default super fund if the supplied fund details are invalid, in order to meet your Superannuation Guarantee obligations.

With Media Super, do you still go online and fill in the employees’ contribution on their website?

If you use Employer Online or MercerSpectrum, your employees’ details are pre-loaded from your payroll data. 

Both payment methods are SuperStream compliant. 

In the event that a Choice Member fails to provide the correct details, how does the employer remain compliant in terms of meeting the Quarterly Payment Requirements?

In order to meet your Superannuation Guarantee obligations, if the choice fund details provided by an employee are invalid you’re required to pay their SG contributions to your default super fund. It’s helpful if your clearing house solution has a complying fund validation tool that allows you to certify it is a valid fund and is eligible to receive contributions, like Media Super’s Employer Portal and MercerSpectrum do.

Do we need to get new Super Choice forms from our employees to ensure their existing Choice funds are now Super Choice compliant?

No. Your existing employees who have exercised choice-of-fund already will not need a new choice form.

We have been told we can only pay via Direct Debit which will automatically come out of our bank as soon as the file is uploaded. Is this correct? 

No, Direct Debit is not the only payment option but it may be the preferred option of the clearing house as it involves less reconciliation of payment and data for the clearing house. Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) is also available and typically requires more reconciliation by the Clearing House. Employer Portal and MercerSpectrum accept contributions via Direct Debit or Direct Credit (EFT).

How many days before the due date do we have to make the payment?

If you’re using Employer Portal, contributions made by Direct Credit will be disbursed within one business day and contributions made by Direct Debit will be disbursed within three business days. More information on timing of payments is available in the Employer Portal Product Disclosure Statement

If you’re using MercerSpectrum, contributions will generally be sent within seven business days from the day the super contributions and membership data are transmitted. More information on timing of payments is available in the MercerSpectrum Product Disclosure Statement

You need to take these time frames into account to ensure that all payments are made by you and received by Funds in time to meet the legislative deadlines for payment of Superannuation Guarantee contributions.