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Do you need to pay superannuation for contractors?

A contractor can turn into an employee for legal and financial obligations, so when working with contractors, employers need to test whether they count as an employee or contractor for superannuation purposes according to the rules stated in the Superannuation Guarantee (SG).

The ATO states that even if contractors quote an Australian Business Number (ABN), they are identified as employees for superannuation guarantee purposes if they are paid mainly for their labour. Employers must make superannuation contributions to these workers if they are being paid:

If any of the above criteria are not met, then employers may not have to pay superannuation. The minimum amount of super that needs to be paid is 9.5% of each worker’s ordinary time earnings (OTE), which is what employees earn for their ordinary hours of work such as commissions, allowances, bonuses, and shift loading.

Employers who attempt to avoid financial and legal obligations to workers by disguising an employment relationship as an independent contracting arrangement can be held liable for ‘sham contracting’ under the Fair Work Act 2009. This can incur fines up to $54 000.

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Self-managed super funds (SMSF) aren’t just about financial investment

December 3, 2020

Individuals may be looking to opt for an SMSF because these provide entire control over where the money is invested. While this sounds enticing, the downside is that they involve a lot more time and effort as all investment is managed by the members/trustees.

Firstly, SMSFs require a lot of on-going investment of time:

Data shows that SMSF trustees spend an average of 8 hours per month managing their SMSFs. This adds up to more than 100 hours per year and demonstrates that compared to other superannuation methods, is a lot more time occupying.

Secondly, there are set-up and maintenance costs of SMSFs such as tax advice, financial advice, legal advice and hiring an accredited auditor. These costs are difficult to avoid if you want the best out of your SMSF. A statistical review has shown that on average, the operating cost of an SMSF is $6,152. This data is inclusive of deductible and non-deductible expenses such as auditor fee, management and administration expenses etc., but not inclusive of costs such as investment and insurance expenses.

Thirdly, investing in SMSF requires financial and legal knowledge and skill. Trustees should understand the investment market so that they can build and manage a diversified portfolio. Further, when creating an investment strategy, it is important to assess the risk and plan ahead for retirement, which can be difficult if one is not equipped with the necessary knowledge. In terms of legal knowledge, complying with tax, super and other relevant regulations requires a basic level of understanding at the very least. Finally, insurance for fund members also needs to be organised which can be difficult without additional knowledge.
Although SMSFs have the advantage of autonomy when it comes to investing, this comes at a price. Members/trustees need to invest time and money into managing the fund and on top of this, are required to have some financial and legal knowledge to successfully manage the fund.