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Illinois State-Sponsored Retirement Plan Faces Launch Challenges

Employee Benefits

Illinois is the first state in the nation to fully enact a state-sponsored retirement plan for employees of private-sector businesses that don't offer such a benefit. The Illinois program, called Secure Choice, is a Roth individual retirement account (IRA). It's intended to help the 2.5 million workers in the Prairie State who lack access to employer-sponsored retirement plans.

Under Secure Choice, Illinois businesses with 25 or more employees operating in the state for two years or more, and that don't offer workers a qualified savings plan, will:

  • Automatically enroll eligible employees. However, an employer that does not want to participate in Secure Choice can choose to offer its workers another qualified retirement savings plan;
  • Be responsible for distributing information about the program to all employees, facilitate enrollment, set up the payroll deduction mechanism, and ensure prompt transfer of employee contributions to the Secure Choice plan;
  • Not be able to make employer contributions to the plan;
  • Have no administrative or managerial duties; and
  • Not incur any costs.

However, Secure Choice's start date has been delayed slightly.

Secure Choice implementation delayed

Originally set to launch June 1, 2017, Secure Choice is now scheduled for a gradual phase-in, beginning with a pilot program in 2018. (Oregon and California are also phasing in plans, with OregonSaves to start July 2017, and California's Secure Choice to begin in 2019. Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Washington state, and New Jersey have also approved the formation of state-sponsored retirement plans.)

Congress recently voted to repeal the ERISA exemption for state-funded retirement plans, which shields small businesses and states from ERISA-related lawsuits. ERISA sets minimum standards for most voluntarily established pension and health plans in private industry to protect individuals in these plans. However, several state plans are continuing to implement their programs in spite of the ruling. The future of state-sponsored retirement plans is ever-changing, and is still evolving as this is written. Paychex will continue to monitor developments as they happen.


This website contains articles posted for informational and educational value. Paychex is not responsible for information contained within any of these materials. Any opinions expressed within materials are not necessarily the opinion of, or supported by, Paychex. The information in these materials should not be considered legal or accounting advice, and it should not substitute for legal, accounting, and other professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant.
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