Starting a new employee
Here's what you need to do when a new employee starts with you.
The sections of this webpage about scheme eligibility cover the default rules for participating employers in CSS, PSS and PSSap. Your agency may have different rules, so if you’re not sure about your specific eligibility criteria, please contact our employer service desk or the Department of Finance’s SuperBranch before relying on this information.
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Step 1: Eligibility
Find out what super fund your employee can or must join.
Starting a new employee in the wrong super fund can have significant financial consequences for both you and your employee. This can include:
- both of you owing contributions in arrears
- incorrect super benefits being paid
- your employee not receiving correct insurance and invalidity entitlements.
It’s your responsibility to make sure every new employee starts in the correct fund.
Most of our funds have eligibility restrictions in place, which means not just anybody can join.
CSS and PSS
- Closed to new members, but employees may be able, or required, to continue contributing when they move from one employer to another.
- They may also be able, or required, to rejoin if they have contributed in the past and either left their super balance in the fund to claim at a later date or are being paid an invalidity retirement pension.
- Your employees’ specific options will depend on their employment contract with you.
- Employees can open a new PSSap account if they are employed by an 'eligible employer'. For example, the Commonwealth Government.
- Employees can only have an ‘employer sponsored’ membership (which requires them to be in eligible employment to contribute) for their first 12 continuous months.
- After 12 continuous months of eligible employment, the PSSap membership is able to receive contributions from eligible and non-eligible employment.
- Similar to PSSap, but ADF Super members can only join through being a serving member of the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
- As long as they have 12 months continuous employment with the ADF and are still a member of ADF Super, they can keep contributing to ADF Super after they have transitioned out of the ADF.
Most Australian workers can choose which super fund their contributions are paid to. Some must join a particular fund. Each employer may also have one or more default super funds.
Employees who are required to join a particular fund are often those who have previously contributed to CSS or PSS – meaning they must rejoin (or continue contributing to) the fund when they start working for you. If they don’t want to contribute to CSS or PSS anymore, they may be able to elect to leave the scheme once they’ve rejoined.
Our members can contribute to the same fund through two (or more) participating employers at the same time. For example, they may be working part-time at two agencies at once or they may be on paid leave from one employer while working for another. Depending on their scheme, this may require them to have multiple contributing memberships created.
On 1 November 2021, super ‘stapling’ came into effect. This means that a person may have a super fund stapled to them when they start their employment with you.
It’s important to know that the eligibility rules for CSS and PSS come first – you only check for a stapled super fund if your new employee isn’t required to rejoin CSS or PSS and hasn’t nominated a super fund to contribute to.
If your new employee isn’t required to rejoin CSS or PSS, they’ll have choice of fund. You’ll need give them the ATO’s super standard choice form so they can nominate a super fund. Alternatively, you can send them our I Choose CSC form if they choose to, and are permitted to, join PSSap. If they don’t nominate a super fund, you must check for a stapled super fund using the ATO’s online portal.
If no stapled super fund exists, you need to default your employee into your default super fund. In some circumstances this may be PSS or PSSap.
We have two tools to help you make sure your employee is in the right scheme:
Our online eligibility determiner, available through Employer Services Online (ESO), is the best way to figure out your employee’s super options.
Use it to search our records and find out if your new employee has ever been a member of CSS or PSS. If it finds a match, enter information about their employment status and it’ll tell you if they’re able to, or required to, rejoin CSS or PSS. We recommend you check all employees born before 1991 to make sure that you don’t start them in the wrong fund.
You can find out more about the eligibility determiner in our ESO user guide.
Our eligibility determiner flowchart which gives you general information about fund eligibility based on your employee’s circumstances.
You can provide this to employees who want to know why they have been placed in a particular fund.
Starting employees in the wrong super schemeIf you start an employee in the wrong super scheme (e.g. if they were started in PSSap but had compulsory PSS membership) it’s important to set up the correct membership as soon as possible. Once this is done you need to correct any payments that have been made into the wrong scheme and ensure any contribution arrears are paid.
If you have multiple impacted employees please contact your Employer Relationship Manager so we can work together to make the required adjustments.
Employees started in an accumulation scheme instead of a defined benefit scheme
You’ll need to immediately pay any employer productivity superannuation contributions (EPSC) and employer liability arrears that have accrued since your employee’s start date. Your employee will also owe member contributions in arrears. Member contribution arrears should generally be repaid within 13 paydays, but we may be able to approve a longer repayment period if this would cause financial hardship.
CSS members must contribute at 5% for the period they were in the wrong scheme. PSS members can elect a whole percentage contribution rate between 2% and 10% for the period they were in the wrong scheme. This election must be made before the arrears payments begin. If they don’t elect a contribution rate for the backdated period, you need to default them to a rate of 5%. Your employees may wish to seek financial advice before electing a contribution rate.
It’s your responsibility to communicate with your employee in these situations, but we can let you know the amount of arrears that are due based on their elected or default contribution rate.
If you incorrectly started your employee in PSSap, you can request a refund of contributions made in error by completing our refund request form. The amount refunded may be different from the amount paid due to changes in the fund’s unit prices.
If you incorrectly started your employee in a fund we don’t administer, you need to contact that other fund directly.
Employees started in a defined benefit scheme instead of accumulation scheme
Step 2: Send information and forms
Telling your employees everything they need to know about super can be a bit overwhelming.
We’ve prepared a letter to introduce CSC and super that you can include in your new employee’s onboarding pack. The letter isn’t scheme specific and encourages your new employee to explore our website to better understand their super.
We have scheme specific letters available too. To better understand our letter of offer options, reach out to your Relationship Manager.
What other information should you give all your employees?
Now that you know whether your employee must rejoin CSS or PSS or has choice of fund, you can give them the necessary forms to complete so their super is ready for the first pay day. We highly recommend giving them these forms before they start their employment.
Our PDS, TMD and website
It doesn’t matter which one of our super funds they’re in, all new employees should be directed to our website where they can find information about how our schemes work and access important documents like the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Target Market Determination (TMD). We’ve also got webpages for those new to CSC and for anyone returning to our super funds.
If they log into their member services online account, they can estimate their potential super benefits and PSSap and ADF Super members can find out more about their insurance cover.
CSS and PSS contribution rate nomination form
All CSS and PSS members should be given the opportunity to nominate their contribution rate, even if the continuous service rules apply. Consider giving any new employees rejoining CSS or PSS the Change my CSS contribution rate form, or Change my PSS contribution rate form.
Specific forms for re-joining CSS members
Re-joining CSS members who are non-ongoing full-time employees, statutory office holders or employed under the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984, who want to re-join CSS, must elect to become an eligible employee of CSS by completing the Application to become an eligible employee of CSS (S20) form.
Specific forms for re-joining PSS members
Confidential Medical and Personal Statement (CMAPS) form
You must tell all re-joining PSS members who don’t have continuous service to complete the CMAPS form. This form must be provided to those members and is available on our website.
If your employee doesn’t get their CMAPS form back to us within 14 days of re-joining PSS, they will automatically be a limited benefits member (LBM). If we receive the form within 14 days, we may still determine they aren’t of sufficiently sound health to carry out all the duties of their position without taking excessive sick leave in the first three years of their membership. If this is the case, they will be regarded as a LBM.
If a LBM claims invalidity benefits or if their dependents claim death benefits in the first three years of membership, the benefit won’t include any prospective service. LBMs are not eligible for pre-assessment payments (PAPs) or a partial invalidity pension (PIP).
Non-ongoing employees, casuals and statutory office holders
New employees on non-ongoing or casual contracts and all statutory office holders who want to re-join PSS must elect to become a PSS member by completing the election to become a member (SE4) form. It’s not enough to complete the standard super choice form available from the ATO.
New employees starting a new period of PSS membership must use this form to provide medical details to allow us to assess whether they should be a limited benefits member. You must provide this form to each new employee who is starting a new period of PSS membership, and make a note in their personnel file confirming that they have received it. Your employee should return the form directly to us.Download PDF, 1155KB
Step 3: Start up their super account
To make administering super as easy as possible, we can receive membership and contribution data electronically. The data format you use changes depending on your employee's super scheme.
It’s important to give us personal contact details for each new member rather than their contact details at work. We’ve got important information to share with them about their super and insurance after they join.
Starting employees in CSS or PSS
You need to send CSS and PSS data to us in a SuperStream alternative file format extended (SAFFE) file. You can submit this to us through our ESO portal. Before starting a new employee you will need to know which AGS number to use.
Depending on the size of your agency, you can create and submit your SAFFE manually in ESO or create your SAFFE in your payroll system and upload it. Find out more about submitting contributions and data in our ESO user guide.
Starting employees in PSSap (for participating employers)
Once we receive the data for a new employee, our system will automatically create their PSSap membership. We’ll let you know your new employee’s PSSap membership number through your clearing house’s messaging system. You should enter the PSSap membership number into your system so it’s included in each following SAFF and future super contributions can be allocated to the correct account.
Starting employees in PSSap (for non-participating employers)
If your employee isn’t eligible for employer-sponsored PSSap membership, they’ll need to have previously been in eligible employment for at least 12 months for you to contribute to PSSap on their behalf. You can then contribute to PSSap through your clearing house, but you need to include their existing PSSap membership number or the contribution will be rejected.
Starting employees in ADF Super (for non-participating employers)
This information does not apply to members currently serving in the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
If your employee wants you to contribute to ADF Super on their behalf, they’ll need to have previously completed 12 months of continuous full-time service with the ADF and be no longer employed by the ADF. You can contribute to ADF Super through your clearing house, but you should include their existing ADF Super membership number.
Step 4: Starting salary and contributions
Get their salaries and contributions ready to report to us
When a new employee joins or rejoins one of our super schemes, you need to determine their super salary, employment status (full-time, part time or casual) and contribution rate. How you do this will depend on the fund they’re joining and whether or not they’re starting a new period of membership.
If your employee joins PSSap and their contributions are based on Ordinary Time Earnings (OTE), their contributions will be based on their earnings in the previous pay period. If their contributions are based on Fortnightly Contribution Salary (FCS), you need to check whether continuous service applies when they start with you.
ADF Super contributions are based on the employee’s OTE in the previous pay period.
Continuous service is where a period of membership in CSS, PSS or PSSap continues from one employer to the next. This normally happens when an employee has arranged their new employment before they resign from their previous employer. It also happens when new employment starts the day after the previous employment ceases, or when there is a gap of only one day (or longer).
If your employee arranged their employment with you before ceasing with their last contributing employer but has a gap of more than one month between jobs, or if you’re unsure about whether continuous service should apply, get in touch so we can investigate for you.
If continuous service applies, your employee’s super will be the same with you as it was at their previous employer. This means that CSS and PSS members will keep using the AGS number from their previous employer and PSSap members will continue to use their PSSap membership number.
Until their first salary review with you, your employee will have the same:
- super salary as at their previous employer
- CSS or PSS contribution rate as at their previous employer (unless they elect a different contribution rate with you), and
- full-time status or part-time hours as at their previous employer.
We can give you this information to start the membership, but you must get the full salary and super history from their previous employer to complete the next salary review.
Transferring between employers
When an employee temporarily moves from one employer to another2, they will always have continuous service. This means that their super salary and full-time status or part-time hours will generally remain the same as at their substantive employer until their next salary review. They’ll also continue at the same contribution rate unless they elect a different rate with you.
Acting at a higher level at the new employer
Transferring at the same level
If the transfer is at level but the salary with you is lower than at their substantive employer, their super salary will stay the same until their next salary review. At the review, you’ll need to apply salary maintenance due to the reduction in salary when they transferred to you.
In CSS, PSS and PSSap (if using FCS), your employee will start a new period of membership if continuous service doesn’t apply. This means their starting salary will be their base salary plus any automatic allowances they’re receiving on their first day. Their hours for super will be their fortnightly contracted hours on their first day.
In CSS and PSS, if your employee doesn’t elect a contribution rate they default to 5% contributions until they make an election.
You always need to give a new AGS number to employees at the start of each new period of CSS or PSS membership.
There can never be continuous service if memberships are concurrent – if your employee is still contributing to CSS or PSS through another employer, you need to start a new period of membership for them.