From: The Honorable Janice D. Schakowsky
Sent By:
Bill: H.R. 4235
Date: 1/29/2016

Improve Retirement Coverage

for Part-time Workers


Cosponsor the Women’s Pension Protection Act of 2015, H.R. 4235

Current Cosponsors: Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Rep. Keith Ellison, Rep. Lois Frankel, Rep. Raul Grijalva, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Rep. Doris Matsui, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, Rep. Frederica Wilson, Rep. Chaka Fattah


Dear Colleague,

I wanted to share an important article that appeared in Money magazine about how women are unfairly left behind when it comes to saving for retirement through a 401(k) plan.   Women are more likely than men to take unpaid maternity leave and work part-time to care for children or family members.  More time off from work means that women contribute less to their savings and in some cases, may be ineligible to participate in a 401(k).

For this reason, Senator Patty Murray and I introduced the Women’s Pension Protection Act of 2015, which would improve retirement coverage for part-time workers.  To learn more or to join as a co-sponsor, please contact Renuka Nagaraj at or x66896.


Jan Schakowsky

Member of Congress


Why 401(k) Plans Are Unfair to Women

January 5, 2016

By Ruth Davis Konigsberg

“Women are twice as likely to work part-time, compared with men, which has a major impact not just on their earnings but their workplace benefits, including even being eligible to participate in a 401(k) retirement plan. Under federal rules, part-time employees must work at least 1,000 hours during a 12-month period, or about 20 hours per week, to be eligible for a 401(k). For many women, that requirement may not give them enough flexibility, so they are shut out of their employer’s 401(k).

Part-time work may be labeled a “choice,” but it’s often a necessity for anyone caring for children or other family members—and that person is usually a woman. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women work part-time at double the rate of men, and make up the majority of people scaling back for “non-economic” reasons, i.e. care-giving. They also take unpaid maternity leaves, which also increases the time they’re not able to contribute to a 401(k). All of which means that the retirement gap is clearly linked to the impact that raising a family has on women’s career choices. Part-time work not only lowers earning power but unfairly limits access to the very plans that are supposed to provide for us in our old age.

A complicated problem like the gender retirement gap will require multiple strategies to solve. But a recently introduced bill would begin to address the part-time work hurdle. This legislation—the Women’s Pension Protection Act of 2015—proposes that workers who complete 500 hours for three consecutive years should be eligible to participate in their employer’s retirement plan. The bill is being sponsored by Rep. Jan Schakowsky and Sen. Patty Murray, who are both Democrats, so the likelihood of it being passed without more bipartisan support is low.”

See the full article here.