Washington is discussing a bill that would provide retirement plan coverage for private-sector employees whose employers do not. No, not Washington state. And not Washington, as in the federal government. This measure is before the City Council of Washington, DC—the District of Columbia.
At-Large Councilmember Christina Henderson on July 14 introduced the Automatic Retirement Savings Act of 2023. The bill would create a program designed to serve the employees of the small businesses that are unable to offer retirement savings accounts to employees due to the cost and administrative burden of maintaining them.
The bill would create a universally available and voluntary retirement savings program for employees of private businesses who are not offered a retirement plan through their workplace, as well as for certain self-employed individuals. It also would establish a Retirement Savings Board which would manage the program.
The default contribution rate would be 3% of an employee's earnings; however, employees would be able change the contribution rate or even not contribute at all.
Employees’ accounts would be portable, since the city would be managing the accounts, not employers.
In her statement introducing the bill, Henderson observed that approximately 173,000 employees in Washington, DC lack access to an employer-provided retirement savings account. “That number will continue to grow, as more small businesses establish themselves in the city,” warns Henderson.
Henderson argues that a city-facilitated savings plan “would help alleviate the barriers that prevent employees whose employers do not offer long-term retirement savings options from saving for their future retirement.” She continues, “This legislation will enable individuals to plan for their retirement and create a stronger, more resilient economy by having a source of income to help pay for living expenses and health care.”
“I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this bill and work together to ensure that every District resident can plan for a more secure financial future” said Henderson in her statement.
The bill was referred to the Committee on Executive Administration and Labor of the Washington, DC City Council.