Illinois became the first state in the country to make significant changes to rules regarding individual retirement savings plans (IRAs) for small business workers. The policy changes are expected to have a positive impact on the saving capabilities of the everyday employee, while also protecting companies and states from getting sued, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Currently, about half of U.S. states are considering adopting similar legislation, which at its core will simply make it easier for small businesses to help their employees save for retirement without a great deal of paperwork and formalities. Right now there approximately 68 million workers without access to employee run retirement plans, such as a 401(k).
U.S. Secretary of Labor, Thomas Perez, applauded the state’s efforts as well as the corresponding proposed rule change the Department of Labor itself released at a conference in Chicago on Monday, Nov. 16, according to the investment and financial news source ThinkAdvisor.com.
“Too many people are on the pathway to poverty because they will be solely reliant on Social Security,” Perez said.
Perez also called the changes, “another plank in the economic security platform that President Obama and this administration have been building to help create new savings options, ensure workers are getting sound retirement advice, and bolster bedrock programs such as Social Security.”
The issue is not really relevant to big corporations as most offer extensive, and often lucrative, retirement options. Unfortunately, about 50% of workers in the private sector are employed by one of the nearly 28 million small businesses in the U.S., according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Many of these smaller companies don’t have the means or incentives to offer such services.
These changes mark a turn as states have been reluctant to attempt any changes for fear of being sued through the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which puts the U.S. Department of Labor in charge of regulating retirement plans.
Under the new changes employers will be allowed to automatically enroll employees in IRA plans, so long as they are voluntary and have the option to opt out.