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Clarity on state-run private-sector retirement savings coming by year-end

Posted On: Jul. 14, 2015 12:00 AM CST

States interested in creating their own programs for private-sector retirement savings will have further guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor by the end of the year, President Barack Obama said Monday at a White House conference on aging.

Mr. Obama said he directed DOL officials to publish a proposed rule to provide more clarity about how automatically enrolling employees will not trigger pre-emption by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. That rule will clarify “how states can move forward,” Mr. Obama said, noting that states are leading the effort in the absence of congressional action.

White House officials also credited some employers, including Alaska Airlines, United Technologies Corp. and The Clorox Co., for best practices to prepare workers for retirement, including automatic enrollment and escalation of contributions.

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez also stressed at the conference the need for his agency to finalize a new rule addressing conflicts of interest from retirement plan service providers and advisers. “We need a standard that makes sure that when you are getting that financial advice in this new world order … it's in your best interests,” Mr. Perez said.

Hazel Bradford writes for Pensions & Investments, a sister publication of Business Insurance.