Before a Closing or Layoff, WARN Your Employees

Were you aware that before closing a plant or laying off a large number of employees you may be required to provide advance notice to the affected employees? Many employers are not aware of this requirement.  The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act requires that some usdol_seal_circa_2015_svgemployers give employees at least 60 days’ advance notice prior to certain plant closings and mass layoffs.

Employers with 100 or more employees must comply with the WARN Act.  The 100 employee count does not include employees who have worked less than 6 months in the last 12 months or those employees who work less than 20 hours per week. It’s important to note that even though these employees are not included in the employee count, they still must be provided notification at least 60 days before a plant closing or mass layoff.

The WARN Act covers lay offs of 50 or more employees at a single worksite during a 30-day period, as well as general lay offs depending on the number of people and the percentage of the workforce being laid off.

Employers are also required to provide notice of plant closing or mass layoff to the state dislocated worker unit and to the chief elected official of the unit of local government in which the employment site is located.

There are only three exceptions where at least 60 day notice is not required:

1)      Faltering company. Where a company has sought new capital or business in order to stay open and where giving notice would ruin the opportunity to get the new capital or business. This exception only applies for plant closings.

2)      Unforeseeable business circumstances that were not reasonably foreseeable at the time notice would have otherwise been required; or

3)      Natural Disaster (i.e., flood, earthquake, storm or drought).

If an employer violates the WARN Act by not providing appropriate notice of a plant closing or mass layoff, the employer is liable to each aggrieved employee for an amount including back pay and benefits for the period of violation, up to 60 days.

More information about the WARN Act is available on the Department of Labor website – click here to read the fact sheet.

You also should consult state or local laws regarding layoffs to be sure you are in compliance. Below is a listing of some states with links for more information about the rules related to layoffs in each state. Note this list is not exhaustive.

California

Connecticut

Hawaii

Illinois

Iowa

Kansas

Maine

Maryland

Massachusetts

Michigan

Minnesota

New Hampshire

New Jersey

New York

Ohio

Pennsylvania

South Carolina

Tennessee

Vermont

Wisconsin