Superannuation funds will now automatically follow Australian workers from job to job, in a move that has a leading advocacy body on edge.
The changes will come into effect from Monday, following a federal government superannuation overhaul.
While the account will follow employees should they move jobs, also known as stapling, they can choose a different fund if they want.
Superannuation Minister Jane Hume said the measures were designed to reduce instances of multiple super accounts being held by one person.
“Historically, when employees started a new job, employers would open a new account, a legacy of superannuation’s origin in the industrial relation system,” Senator Hume said.
“Stapling will stop the creation of unwanted, multiple accounts that reduce Australians’ retirement savings through duplicate fees and insurance premiums.
“It is not for life, it happens only when changing jobs and only to those individuals who have not exercised their right to choose their own fund.”
But Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees chief executive Eva Scheerlinck said stapling would take away the safety net for employees in existing funds.
“While the new stapling rules don’t stop anyone from changing their super fund at any time, the reality is that millions of Australians ‘set and forget’ their super, especially if they are years away from retirement,” Ms Scheerlinck said.
AIST says its data analysis shows an average wage earner stapled to a persistently underperforming fund over their working life could retire 309,000 worse off.
Ms Scheerlinck is urging people to take the time to check their super fund to avoid “the fright of their lives” upon retirement.
“We are very concerned that the new stapling rules will negatively impact disengaged or vulnerable Australians who may not realise they are in a persistently underperforming fund and remain stapled to that fund for life,” she said.
“This isn’t a handful of people – it’s could be several million workers.”
The November 1 changes come just weeks after underperforming super funds were named and shamed, being forced to write to customers urging them to compare other options.