In nearly half of all American workplaces, there is no retirement savings plan available, according to a study by AARP. Nearly 57 million people work for an employer that does not offer either a traditional pension or a retirement savings plan. More than a million of those people work here in Maryland.

Now, Maryland is one of the first states to take action.

MarylandSaves is a program designed to help small and minority business owners to make retirement programs available to employees who may have thought they were not able to afford or manage an employee retirement program.

Small companies don’t offer any retirement savings for a multitude of reasons, including cost, administrative burden or complexity, or risk. Setting up a 401k plan can be prohibitive for small employers, especially if their plans include some form of matched funds.

The AARP data also reveals disparities by race and ethnicity. Nearly 64% of Hispanic workers, 53% of Black workers, and 45% of Asian American workers lack access to an employer-provided retirement plan. Together, these employees account for about 46% of the total 57 million uncovered workers.

“We’ve worked hard to make MarylandSaves hassle-free for all business owners,” said MarylandSaves Executive Director Glenn Simmons. “Registration is free, quick, and easy.”

The program is available statewide and thousands of Howard County, Anne Arundel County and BWI Business District businesses are eligible to participate.

Workers can get emergency savings and better retirement options automatically

The money saved in the program’s WorkLife Savings Accounts comes from payroll deductions and is controlled by each saver. Multiple investment options are available, and savers can change their savings rate, change their investment options, or opt-out at any time. Employees own their WorkLife Savings accounts, and they keep them even if they change jobs. By default, an emergency savings fund will be established with the first $1,000, and any contributions beyond that will be invested in a target date fund based on the saver’s age.

“MarylandSaves is an advance on traditional retirement savings,” said MarylandSaves Board Chair Joshua Gotbaum. “It’s automatic savings from each paycheck, savings that help with life’s emergencies now and can keep helping after people retire and need it most.”

The program helps businesses comply with the new Maryland law requiring most employers to offer a payroll-deducted automatic retirement savings program option.

The program is being administered by a team of established financial services firms including Vestwell and BNY Mellon. All investment options are professionally managed by BlackRock, Lincoln Financial Group, State Street Global Advisors, and T. Rowe Price.

MarylandSaves endorsed by both businesses and their employees

More than 1,000 Maryland business owners and non-profit leaders have enrolled since it launched state-wide in September. Their reviews have been enthusiastic.

“Atwater’s has been on a 23-year mission to provide every employee a good job with great benefits. A retirement plan has always been a part of that vision. With MarylandSaves, we’ve achieved that while staying close to our handcrafted, local roots,” said Justin Brady, HR manager at Maryland’s Atwater’s markets.

Josseline Rodriguez has worked at the Caliente Grille in Annapolis for six years and appreciates the emergency savings fund she is building in her WorkLife Savings Account: “It really feels amazing that I know that I’m saving money for my future and for my family,” she said, “because you never know what can happen, and you might need that money, and you have it whenever you need it.”

Want to know more?

If you lead a small business, non-profit or professional association and are interested in enrolling in the MarylandSaves retirement savings program for your employees, visit