Super and your career

Started your first job or climbed another rung on the career ladder? Congratulations! 

After you’ve toasted your successes, spare a few minutes to learn about how these key work milestones (and more) relate to your super. Cheers to future you. 

Find answers to super and your career questions.
Kick off your super journey with your first job

This is an exciting step in your life! It could be one of the first times you come across phrases like ‘as per my last email’. And it’s probably where your journey with super will begin. While we can’t help you with email etiquette, we’ve got you covered when it comes to super. 

Put simply, super is money set aside for your retirement. You're eligible for it whether you're full-time, part-time, or a casual worker. If you don’t know much about super, then it’s worth reading ‘how super works’ to get the low down. 

Already across the basics? Then it’s time to choose your super fund!  

Choose a fund that fits your needs

When you start your first job, your employer should give you a superannuation standard choice form to fill in. This will let them know where to pay your super. To complete it, you’ll need to choose and join a fund. 

While it might sound daunting, choosing and joining a fund is pretty straightforward. But because the fund you choose now is the one you’ll be 'stapled’ to throughout your career (unless you actively choose otherwise), it’s a good idea to select one that fits your needs.

So, here are some factors you might want to consider when choosing your fund:

  • Where the profits go – Is the fund profit-to-member, or is it a retail fund (meaning profits may go to shareholders, not members)?
  • Fees – What type of fees does the fund charge, and how much are they?
  • Investment options – does the fund have options that suit your risk appetite and goals? 
  • Investment performance – how has the fund performed over both the short and long term? 
  • Insurance options – what type of insurance cover is available, how much does it cost, and are there any exclusions that might affect you?
  • Member services – does the fund offer additional member services, such as financial advice and education? 

Compare funds and join your favourite 

Fortunately, you can compare a super fund in less time than it takes to drink your morning flat white. One of the ways you can do this is by using CareSuper’s independent comparison tool. It lets you explore how our investment performance, fees, insurance cover, member services and more stack up against other funds. 

Once you’ve chosen your preferred fund, you should be able to join online in under 10 minutes. You’ll just need your tax file number and some personal info at the ready.    

If you’d rather not pick your own fund, you can usually go with your employer’s default option. However, it’s worth making sure it’s the right one for you! 

Sort your super when you start a new job

We knew you’d ace the interview! When you switch jobs, you can stick with the fund you’re ‘stapled’ to, or you can take another shot at picking your own super fund. 

Just like when you started your first job, your employer will give you a superannuation standard choice form to fill out. You’ll need your member number and fund details handy. 

What happens if you don’t give your employer your fund details?

That’s ok! Your super will be paid to the fund that’s stapled to you. You can find out online which fund you’re stapled to by logging in to the Australian Taxation Office through myGov. 

What if you want to change your super fund?

Feel like a fresh super start with your new job? If you’re not happy with the fund you’re stapled to, it’s easy to change. For example, to join CareSuper, simply sign up online and follow the prompts to consolidate your other super into your new account. Then, complete a choice form, hand it to your employer, and voilà – they’ll start paying your super into your new CareSuper account. 

More on changing jobs

Make the most of a pay rise

A pay rise can change the way you live your life. It can also change how you manage your super, including additional contributions and insurance. So, if you’ve recently moved up a pay bracket, here are some super-related considerations to keep in mind. 

Take a look at your financial priorities 

A pay rise is a great opportunity for you to reassess your financial priorities and help you decide what you should do with that extra ‘take-home’ income. 

For example, you may consider using your boosted income to pay off any existing debts (like a mortgage) or add to your emergency savings. And if you’ve got these bases covered, you might choose to boost your super. This can reduce the total amount of tax you pay while also increasing your retirement savings for life after work. 

Protect your new income with insurance

Did you know most super funds offer insurance? Yep! Typically, they’ll provide death (also known as life) cover, total and permanent disablement cover and income protection insurance. As its name suggests, income protection can help pay your bills if you need to take extended time off work due to injury or illness. It’s usually calculated based on what you were earning when you applied. So, if you have income protection, and you’ve received a pay rise, you can apply to increase it in line with your new salary. 

Align your insurance with your occupation 

If you’re a CareSuper member, it’s worth checking and updating your occupational category. Your occupational category reflects the amount of risk associated with your role and affects both the cost of your insurance and the amount you can have. CareSuper has two occupational categories: General and Professional. You’re automatically put in the General category when you join.  

You can apply to change your category to Professional at any time through MemberOnline. You’ll just have to answer a few questions to make sure you’re eligible. If you are, you’ll pay less for your cover or get more for the same price. 

Put your pay rise to work with the help of financial advice 

If you have questions about your finances, including how to get the most out of your pay rise, an advisor can help answer them. They can consider your financial priorities, work with you to set realistic goals, and make a plan to achieve them. CareSuper offers its members a range of advice options, including super-related advice that’s provided over the phone at no extra cost.*

Boost your super during a career break

Taking time away from work to explore the Wonders of the World, raise a wonderful new addition to the family or simply recharge your batteries? You’ll likely be missing out on super contributions while you do. Here are a few ways you can boost your super before (or while) you take a career break. 

Maximise your before-tax contributions

If you’re still on the clock, salary sacrificing into your super can soften the impact of a career break. 

Salary sacrifice is an arrangement between you and your employer where you agree for them to pay part of your before-tax salary into your super. You can contribute as much or as little as you want, usually up to a total of $27,500 (including your employer contributions) per financial year.

It’s also a tax-effective way to boost your super over the long term, as you only pay up to 15% tax on this type of contribution (additional 15% tax applies for high income earners). 

Stepping back from paid work to raise a family? Find out more about super incentives for families. 

Top up your super with after-tax contributions

If you can afford it, you might consider making a personal contribution to your super while you’re away from work. That way, the money you contribute will be invested and most likely start earning interest.  

You can make a one-off contribution using BPAY® or set up a regular, ongoing payment via direct debit. And, as you’ve already paid tax on personal contributions, they may be tax deductible. 

Work with your partner to balance and grow each other’s super  

Have a partner who’s still earning an income? Then spouse contributions or contribution splitting might be worth exploring. Find out more on our super for families page.

Remember, your career break is a valuable time to invest in your financial wellbeing. By implementing the strategies mentioned above and seeking expert advice, you can ensure your superannuation continues to grow while you enjoy time away from the desk.

Information correct as at 14 November 2023.

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