Human Resources / Automatic 401(K) Enrollment: Right For Your Company?

Automatic 401(K) Enrollment: Right For Your Company?

401K Retirement - BlueStone LLC

Traditionally, employees have to opt in to retirement plans and make their own decisions about contributions. But there’s another possibility: automatic enrollment. If they choose to enroll their staff automatically, companies have three options:

Basic automatic enrollment, also called an “Automatic Contribution Arrangement” (ACA)

  • Employees are automatically enrolled in the 401(k) plan unless they choose otherwise.
  • The plan document states the default percentage that will be automatically deducted from employees’ wages.
  • Employees can choose to opt out or to contribute a different amount from the default percentage.

Eligible automatic contribution arrangement (EACA)

  • This arrangement is similar to the ACA, except that it has specific notice requirements and permits auto-enrolled employees to withdraw their automatic contributions, plus earnings, within 30-90 days of making their first automatic contribution.

Qualified automatic contribution arrangement (QACA)

  • Along with having notice requirements, the QACA specifies employer contribution amounts, a vesting schedule based on years of service and the default percentage for automatic enrollment.
  • Employees can choose to opt out or to contribute a different amount from the default percentage.

Other key provisions

Whichever option your company chooses, it may include one of the following options:

Default Investments: The employer can select a default investment option for auto-enrolled employees who do not elect their own investments. These employees must be given an opportunity to change the investment choice.

Automatic Escalation: With automatic escalation, you automatically increase employees’ 401(k) contributions over a period of time. For instance, you might increase employees’ contributions by 1% annually, up to a maximum of 15% — or more, if the employee elects a higher amount.

Default rates: Traditionally, employers who auto-enroll employees defer 3% of each employee’s salary to his or her plan. However, more and more employers are auto-enrolling at higher rates, such as 5% or 6% of the employee’s pay. Studies show that most employees support a 6% automatic contribution rate and want their employers to automatically increase their contributions each year.

Employers should be aware of any legal limits on automatic enrollment or escalation. For example, the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act raises the deferral cap for automatic enrollment safe harbor plans from 10% to 15%.

Advantages of automatic enrollment

According to the Department of Labor, automatic enrollment:

  • Helps you find and keep qualified people.
  • Boosts plan participation rates among all employees, including management.
  • Encourages employees to start saving for retirement.
  • Allows participants to make salary deferrals even if they do not choose their own investments.
  • Delivers tax savings when employers and employees make pretax contributions.

In addition, the SECURE Act provides a tax credit to eligible employers who add an automatic enrollment feature to their 401(k) plan.

How to set up an automatic enrollment 401(k) plan

  • Decide on what type of automatic enrollment plan you want to offer.
  • Create a written plan document.
  • Select a trustee to safeguard the plan’s assets.
  • Develop a recordkeeping system for 401(k) transactions and expenses.
  • Give your employees the necessary 401(k) and automatic enrollment notices.

Currently, automatic enrollment is voluntary for employers. But keep an eye out for federal legislation that might require employers to automatically enroll eligible employees in the company’s 401(k) plan.

Of course, this is just an introduction to a complex topic. Retirement plans are heavily regulated, and rules change, so make sure you work with a professional to ensure you are in compliance with the latest laws.

If you have any questions or concerns about the above information, please click here to contact a BlueStone representative.

©2022

Keep informed
Receive tips on how you can use outsourcing to save time and improve your business processes.

Related Articles

11/15/2022

MarylandSaves Program: What Employers Need to Know

Most businesses operating in the state of Maryland are now required to offer a retirement savings plan to their employees. You may or may not have

Read More  
11/01/2022

3 Signs You Have Outgrown Your HR Software Solution

HR software is pivotal to the success and overall flow of workforce management. At the very least, the HR solution that you implement should make it

Read More  
11/01/2022

How to handle leave-of-absence requests

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a more flexible workplace was established that included new boundaries for paid and unpaid leave.

Read More  
BlueStone-logo