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Delaware Joins States that Cover Employees Whose Employers Don’t

State Auto-IRA Plans

It may not be the first in this instance, but the First State has joined its sisters that provide retirement plan coverage to employees whose private-sector employers do not.

Gov. John Carney (D) on Aug. 18 signed into law H.B. 205, the measure that creates the Delaware Expanding Access for Retirement and Necessary Savings (EARNS) program.

The Delaware House of Representatives passed the measure on May 17 in a 35-1 vote. The Senate followed suit on June 21 in a 20-1 vote. 


EARNS is intended to be a public-private partnership that will encourage—but not replace or compete with—employer-sponsored retirement plans. 

EARNS will apply to any person, partnership, limited liability company, corporation or other entity that does business in Delaware, including a nonprofit with at least five covered employees and did so during the previous calendar year; and has been in business in Delaware for at least six months in the immediately preceding calendar year.

Covered employers will be required to:

  • Register with EARNS and provide the program administrator relevant information about its employees. 
  • Offer, or assist EARNS in offering, all covered employees the choice to either participate in EARNS by voluntarily contributing to an IRA through the program or opt out of it. 
  • Provide, or assist the EARNS administrator in providing, program-related information, educational materials and disclosures to covered employees and participants. 
  • Remit participant contributions in a timely fashion. 
  • Perform any other duties or functions the Delaware EARNS Program Board may require them to perform in order to facilitate enrollment and administration of the program.

Delaware EARNS Program Board

The Delaware EARNS Program Board will oversee initial design and implementation of the program. The Board will have seven members; in addition to five members who are officials in the state government, there will be two members from the private sector whom the governor will appoint—including an owner of a small business and one with experience in providing financial advice or assistance to lower- to moderate-income workers or retirees. 

The Board will exist only to the end of 2025; thereafter, the Plan's Management Board would assume all of its duties and functions.