How does super work?

Your money set aside, invested and saved for your retirement

Changing jobs

It’s important to remember that superannuation is your money regardless of where you work. So, when you change jobs, that’s a good time to think about the money you’ve accumulated in your super fund.

Historically, changing jobs was the main reason people ended up with more than one superannuation account. And this was often the first step to people losing track of their super accounts. But changing jobs rarely means you must change your super fund too.

Whether you’re going to work for a different organisation or starting your own business, most funds will allow you to keep your account with them until you reach retirement. The exceptions tend to be where the fund is a public sector fund or a corporate super fund, where you may need to be a current employee to keep your benefit in the fund.

Think about what happens with your bank account when you change jobs. Your employer gives you a form which you fill in with your bank account details so they know where to pay your wages.

Your superannuation is the same – you should be offered a standard choice form within 28 days of beginning a new job. If you want to choose a new superannuation fund for your employer to contribute to, you fill in the form with your super account details so your employer knows where to pay your super. Up until 31 October 2021, if you don’t fill in the form your employer will make super contributions to a fund it has chosen for its employees – its ‘default fund’.

From 1 November 2021, employers will have to follow some new rules. If you don’t fill in the choice form your employer will check with the ATO whether you already have a super account and, if you do, and it can accept contributions for you, your employer will make super contributions to your existing fund. This is called ‘stapling’, where your super fund is ‘stapled’ to you, unless you choose to have contributions made to another fund.

Choice

In most cases, it’s your choice into which fund your employer will pay your contributions.

Up until 31 October 2021, if you don’t make a choice, your employer will pay your contributions into its default fund, which will be named on the choice form. From 1 November 2021, if you don’t make a choice your employer will pay your contributions into your existing fund. If you don’t have an existing fund, or it cannot accept contributions for you, your employer will pay contributions for you into its ‘default fund’.

There are some limited situations where you may not have choice. These include if you are employed under an enterprise agreement made before 1 January 2021 that specifies a particular super fund, or if you are a member of certain defined benefit funds. If this is the case, your employer will set up an account for you with the specific fund and details will be mailed to you by the fund. Visit Super Guru’s Choosing a fund page for more on Choice of fund and whether you will be able to choose.

Some super funds are public offer – meaning anyone can join. There are some other types of funds that you can only stay a member of if you remain with a particular employer or within a certain industry. Contact your super fund for more information.

Should I have my new employer contribute to my old fund?

There can be advantages to keeping just the one super fund, so having your new employer contribute to your current super fund can be a good idea. If you have more than one super account, read more about the potential advantages on our Consolidating your super page.

There can also be reasons why you may like to keep more than one fund, such as extra insurance benefits or extended investment options. Also, not every fund will allow you to move your super — some public sector schemes and defined benefit funds do not allow this. Different funds have different rules so be sure to check with your fund if you’re unsure.