A report has laid out ways to increase access toretirement plans for a Senatehearing.

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In the hearing “Closing the Gap: Innovations to PromoteAmericans’ Retirement Security,” the TransamericaCenter for Retirement Studies addressed the U.S. Senate SpecialCommittee on Aging on a report that offers strategies to providemore workers with access to retirement plans.

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The report, “The Current State of 401(k)s: The Employer’sPerspective,” provides an overview of retirement plan sponsorship,comparisons by company size and worker insights.

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In testimony from Catherine Collinson, president of the centerand of the Transamerica Institute, hearing attendees learned thatonly 38 percent of employers that offer a plan extend eligibilityto their part-time workers.

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Considering that 90 percent of workers who are offered a 401(k)or similar plan are saving, while only 48 percent of workers notoffered a plan are doing so, expanding coverage of retirement plansto part-time employees would go a long way toward helping toaddress the retirement savings issue.

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Collinson’s testimony also included recommendations for, amongother actions, incorporating automatic features in 401(k) plans toboost savings rates; discouraging loans and withdrawals fromretirement plans; structuring matching contribution formulas topromote higher salary deferrals; and promoting incentives to save,including the Saver’s Credit and catch-up contributions.

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While many of the recommendations are viewed positively byworkers and/or result in higher savings rates, they’re not adoptedby employers at the same rate. For instance, auto escalation ofcontributions is viewed by 67 percent of plan participants as agood idea, but just 28 percent of employers offer it. Even autoenrollment, viewed positively by 71 percent of workers, is onlyoffered by 21 percent of plan sponsors. Larger companies are morelikely to automatically enroll their employees, with 41 percent ofthem doing so, compared with only 28 percent of small companies andjust 18 percent of micro companies.

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