KiwiSaver: A guide for employers and the self-employed

If you own a business, it’s best to think about KiwiSaver in two ways – as an employer, and as a member yourself, says Paul Gregory, of Pie Funds.

If you work for yourself, you may have enrolled in KiwiSaver to save for your retirement. But if you employ staff, it’s good to make sure you’re also doing the right thing for the people who work for you.

Under the law, employers must:

  • Make KiwiSaver available to any staff who want to join it.
  • Arrange salary deductions for new employees who are KiwiSaver members.
  • Make employer contributions of at least 3 per cent for employees who are KiwiSaver members.

Employers can’t ignore KiwiSaver, even if they offer a registered superannuation scheme and have an exemption from the Financial Markets Authority.

Being exempt just means you don’t have to automatically enrol new employees in KiwiSaver.

One-stop guide

The Inland Revenue Department has made it simple for bosses with its online KiwiSaver employer guide.

But if you’re thinking about KiwiSaver for your employees just as admin, you’re looking at it the wrong way.

With KiwiSaver, you have the chance to do some really good things for your staff.

A KiwiSaver account will probably be your workers’ largest investment other than if they own their own home. It gives them the chance to make a better future, by delaying spending today to save for tomorrow.

You can make a difference

KiwiSaver is also a chance to boost your team’s broader financial education, and make their lives better. You could start conversations about money, budgeting, avoiding scams, and how to use financial products and services to get ahead in life.

Research shows employees worried about money will be more stressed, less productive, and more likely to be sick or absent.

Get them savvy about saving

Lots of financial services companies, like banks, have information and tools available to help your employees better manage their money. Some of them might even come to speak to your team in person.

Why? To be honest, it’s sometimes because they might get new members out of it. But it’s also because the government is demanding that financial organisations engage and inform their customers, as well as profit from them. And that’s a good thing.

Government agencies like the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) and the Commission for Financial Capability (CFFC) are also happy to provide information – and in CFFC’s case, do training programmes – to build your employees’ financial capability.

It’s an important part of their job, because they know there’s a big link between improving Kiwis’ financial capability and helping New Zealand grow, both socially and economically.

These organisations can help educate your employees about their financial future, but they don’t have what you have. You have direct contact with your people every day and, what’s more, they trust you. You’re the key to it all.

In fact, KiwiSaver providers find that members who are part of ‘preferred provider’ arrangements with their employers are far more engaged than members who come to them directly. That’s thanks to bosses who get involved.

Help them be smarter with money

Good employers see financial capability as part of their employees’ overall skill-base and they can see how it reduces stress – at least as much as free flu jabs and yoga sessions.

Big employers with human resources departments probably have the money and people to do most of this themselves.

But if you’re a small employer, there are still plenty of free resources:

  • There are online tools such as Sorted’s Fund Finder, or the FMA’s KiwiSaver Tracker.
  • Some KiwiSaver providers have good educational material on their websites.
  • You can also get direct help from the workplace programmes offered by the CFFC.
  • Encouraging your employees to join KiwiSaver, and giving them the tools to do so, can really bring big benefits later in life.

    What if you’re a contractor?

    If you’re self-employed, it might be easy to put KiwiSaver in the ‘too hard’ basket.

    You’re not prompted to sign up by your employer, so you need to contact a provider yourself to become a member.

    Yes, your income might be uncertain, and your cash flow might be unpredictable. Putting away money regularly might feel uncomfortable. But your future, post-work, you will thank you for the discipline you showed.

    First, as with anyone else, don’t contribute to KiwiSaver at the expense of your mortgage or feeding yourself and your family.

    But you only need to contribute NZ$20 a week to get the full NZ$521 annual government contribution.

    An automatic payment is probably the easiest way to do it, and your provider will help you with this.

    Keeping that sporadic cash flow in mind, you might prefer a lump sum contribution: put in at least NZ$1,043 (that NZ$20 a week in one hit) to get the government contribution.

    Even if you can’t put in that much, the government will match what you do put in.

    Published 1 March 2019

    Story by Paul Gregory, Pie Funds

    Paul Gregory is the Chief Operating Officer at Pie Funds Management Limited. Pie Funds Management Limited is the issuer of the JUNO KiwiSaver Scheme. You can read our Product Disclosure Statement here. This article is general in nature only and has not taken into account any particular person’s objectives or circumstances. We recommend you speak with a financial adviser. All content is correct at time of publication date.