Warren sponsors bill providing new retirement savings option for small businesses

Published 12:02 am Friday, March 31, 2023

SALISBURY — In hopes of putting a stop to what some view as a retirement savings crisis in North Carolina, Rep. Harry Warren is one of four primary sponsors of a bill that could create the North Carolina Small Business Retirement Program, also known as NC Work and Save, which gives workers a new option.

If passed, House Bill 496, which was introduced on Tuesday, will allow small businesses and self-employers who do not offer their employees a retirement plan to register for the program. Once signed up, it gives their employees the option to place a percentage of their paycheck in an individual retirement account. Roughly 1.8 million workers in North Carolina work for an employer that does not offer a retirement plan.

Rep. Harry Warren —
File photo by Elisabeth Strillacci

“It gives those who don’t really have any access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, it gives them an opportunity to participate in a savings plan that is safe and secure,” Warren said in a phone interview Wednesday.

The program is set up in a way that if the employer goes out of business or the worker changes jobs, the money they saved through NC Work and Save will still be there because the account is tied to them, not the employer. Initially five percent of each paycheck can be taken out and saved through the program, and the amount can be increased each year up to a maximum of eight percent.

“They’re secure. It gives them the personal freedom to pursue their careers and still be planning for their future,” Warren said.

The program would be run by the North Carolina Small Business Retirement Program Board consisting of 12 appointed members.

“When you recognize the fact that almost two million people have no means of saving for their future, I think it’s a good opportunity for folks who might not otherwise have an opportunity to save for their retirement,” Warren said.

Fourteen other states have also created a similar program, with participants saving an average of $143 per month, according to AARP.

The bill is currently making its way through the North Carolina House of Representatives.