How does super work?

Your money set aside, invested and saved for your retirement

How does super work?

Superannuation is treated differently to most other savings. There are special tax treatments and concessions that apply to superannuation contributions to help Australians save for their retirement. Visit the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website for more information.

What your employer does

If you’re entitled to receive super, your employer is required to pay this compulsory contribution to a super fund at least every three months*. Your employer is required to use ordinary time earnings to determine the amount of your contribution.

What your super fund does

Once your superannuation fund receives your contributions (either from your employer or your own voluntary contributions), it invests this money either in a default strategy or one you have chosen yourself. Most super funds offer a number of investment options including a range of asset classes with different rates of risk and growth. You can choose how you'd like your money invested, if you want to. To find out more about investing choice, see our investment options page.

You can also transfer your money to a different investment option within the fund, or transfer to another super fund at any time.

Fees and charges

Super funds do charge fees for the services they provide, usually as a dollar amount or a percentage of your balance. These include general fees such as administration, member and investment, as well as optional extras including adviser fees and insurance premiums.

Your role

Although the compulsory nature of super means your super should continue to accumulate without you having to do much at all, it is important you keep an eye on your superannuation payments and balance to ensure your money is working as hard as it can for your retirement.

Super Guru also has information on keeping your super safe.

*The Government has announced that employers will, from 1 July 2026, be required to pay an employee’s compulsory superannuation contributions to their fund on the same day that they pay their salary and wages, instead of up to three months later. This announcement is not yet law.