The program, administered through the Oregon State Treasury, was created by the Legislature in 2015 as a way to help more Oregonians have the ability to save for retirement at work.
"The statewide rollout of OregonSaves is positive news for every Oregonian," said State Treasurer Tobias Read, the chair of the Oregon Retirement Savings Board. "Workers and the overall economy will benefit from more personal saving, and employers will benefit by being able to facilitate an easy program that helps attract and retain quality employees."
Today, about half of the Oregon workforce does not have access to a retirement savings option like a 401(k) at work. That means workers are less likely to save, the long-term economy will suffer, and it also puts those businesses without plans - most of them small businesses - at a competitive disadvantage. Studies show that workers are more productive if they have less financial stress.
To encourage more retirement savings, the 2015 Legislature did not mandate that every business have a retirement plan. Instead, lawmakers instructed the State Treasury to create a low-impact state-based option that carries no fiduciary risk or fees for employers.
Now, after a successful pilot phase that earned praise from savers and employers alike, OregonSaves is open for statewide enrollment for any employer with staff. There are a series of rolling deadlines from 2018 to 2020 based on company size, but employers do not need to wait for them to start facilitating savings.
OregonSaves will send registration numbers to every Oregon employer in January.
"The process to get the program established was minimal, the OregonSaves software is easy to navigate, and the time and effort it took was worth the benefits the employees will gain from the program," said Judi Randall, finance director at Douglas County Multi-Family Property Management Corp., an affordable housing provider in Roseburg.
"Since we are not able to provide a retirement benefit, it is the least we could do for our employees. The OregonSaves Plan is a great step in enabling employees to aid in the financial planning of their own future."
OregonSaves was developed by the Oregon Retirement Savings Board with strong feedback from businesses, associations and the public.
The pilot phase showed that the system interface is simple and efficient, and participating workers are already saving more than $300,000, combined.
Under the law, if employers do not have a plan, then they need to facilitate access to OregonSaves, by allowing workers to save their own money via payroll deductions. Workers are automatically enrolled and have the ability to opt out at anytime. But about 70 percent of workers keep saving, which will be a good thing for their families and ultimately for taxpayers and the economy.
Employers that offer qualified plans are able to go to the website at employer.oregonsaves.com and declare themselves exempt. This is a simple "unsubscribe" process that takes less than 3 minutes and takes you off the mailing list.
You can learn more about OregonSaves at www.OregonSaves.com or check out the 2017 annual report. The report is at: http://www.oregon.gov/
OregonSaves has been recognized nationally by retirement advocates and research experts such as the Pew Charitable Trusts and Morningstar Inc. as an important advancement that will help dent the crisis of inadequate personal savings. In addition, more saving will help taxpayers, by reducing the long-term need for expensive government safety net programs.
Oregon could save $98 million in public costs over 15 years if people saved enough to increase their retirement income by $1,000 a year, according to an analysis by the AARP.
Today, the average savings for families nearing retirement age is just $12,000, and many people haven't even saved a dime. In Oregon, OregonSaves will make a positive difference, while being easy to administer.
While employers can register now, the deadlines are:
100 or more employees - November 15, 2017
50 to 99 employees - May 15, 2018
20 to 49 employees - Dec. 15, 2018
10 to 19 employees - May 15, 2019
5 to 9 employees - Nov. 15, 2019
4 or fewer employees - May 15, 2020