By James Wright Jr.
Prior to the beginning of the D.C. Council summer recess period, Council member Christina Henderson (I-At Large) introduced the Automatic Retirement Savings Act of 2023, which is designed to support employees of the District’s small businesses.
Henderson said small businesses and their employees are vital to the cultural vibrancy and economic health of the city. She noted that while many area employers, including the District government, offer retirement savings programs to their employees, about 173,000 workers in the city do not have access to a retirement savings account through their employer. The council member said that number may grow as more small businesses establish themselves in the city.
Henderson’s bill addresses the gap in retirement savings access by setting up a Retirement Savings Board which would manage a universally available and voluntary Retirement Savings Program for employees of private businesses who are not offered a retirement plan through their workplace and for certain self-employed people.
Employees would have 3% of their earnings automatically deducted from their wages to contribute to the program unless the employee elects not to contribute or to contribute a different amount. These accounts would be portable if a participating employee changes jobs because the accounts would be managed by the District not the employer.
“If it is our goal for D.C. to come back, we must create pathways that attract and retain small businesses,” Henderson said. “We must also allow the employees of these businesses to invest in their future security. A savings plan facilitated by the District would help alleviate the barriers that prevent employees whose employers do not offer long-term retirement savings options from saving for their future.”
Henderson’s bill was co-introduced by Council members Vincent C. Gray (D-Ward 7), Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), Matthew Frumin (D-Ward 3), Brooke Pinto (D-Ward 2) and Brianne K. Nadeau (D-Ward 1).