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  • Justin Hein

No Workplace Retirement Plan? CalSavers Now Required for Most Employers

Established through 2016 legislation as the CalSavers Retirement Savings Trust Act, the program is intended to be a “simple and effective way for employees to save.”


The CalSavers Retirement Savings Trust Act made it law that all California businesses with more than five employees must offer either employer-sponsored or state-sponsored retirement plans. The CalSavers Retirement Savings Trust Act was passed in 2016 and rolled out over the past 3 years, targeting the largest employers first, before reaching employers of 5 or more in 2022.



As of June 30, 2022, employers with at least five California employees must register for the CalSavers Retirement Program if they do not otherwise offer a qualified retirement plan to their employees. Qualified retirement plans include:

  • 401(a) – Qualified Plan (including profit-sharing plans and defined benefit plans)

  • 401(k) plans (including multiple employer plans or pooled employer plans)

  • 403(a) - Qualified Annuity Plan or 403(b) Tax-Sheltered Annuity Plan

  • 408(k) - Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plans

  • 408(p) - Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees of Small Employers (SIMPLE) IRA Plan

  • Payroll deduction IRAs with automatic enrollment

If an employer has a qualified retirement plan, the employer needs to request an exemption at the following website: calsavers.com/exempt. If an employer does not have a qualified retirement plan, then it must register with CalSavers at calsavers.com/start.


Nationwide, it is estimated that 55 million Americans do not have access to retirement savings plans through their employer. “We all know that too many people aren’t saving enough for the future, but now we have an easy set-it-and-forget-it solution with CalSavers,” said California State Treasurer Fiona Ma, who chairs the CalSavers Retirement Savings Board. “We’re seeing tremendous buy-in from employers and employees statewide and we’re proud of the positive reviews from users.”

With 69,000 registered employers from every county in California, CalSavers is serving a vast array of businesses, from small mom and pop shops to large companies and everything in between. There are no fees for employers and it’s designed for ease of use. CalSavers is a Roth IRA voluntary retirement savings program. CalSavers accounts have a default savings rate of 5% of the employee’s gross pay, but employees can change their rate at any time. More than 270,000 California workers have begun saving for retirement with CalSavers and saved over $212 million since the program began.


The Act applies to any employer (person or entity), other than the federal or state government, engaged in any business or profession in the state of California, employing at least five California employees. The deadlines for employers without 401(k) plans to register for the CalSavers Retirement Program were:

  • Employers with more than 100 California employees – September 30, 2020

  • Employers with 51 to 100 California employees – June 30, 2021

  • Employers with 5 to 50 California employees – June 30, 2022

Failure to register if required to do so subjects the employer to penalties, which can include $250 per employee for the initial violation and $750 per employee if not remedied. For larger employers that missed their deadline in 2020 or 2021, enforcement actions and financial penalties are underway, and those employers should register without delay.

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