The mass layoffs and downsizing across sectors make it essential for employers to have a relook at the employment law requirements, including the Federal WARN Act and State WARN Acts. This blog is a brief refresher on the WARN Act and its application to plant closings and mass layoffs.
What is the WARN Act?
The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification or WARN Act is a federal law that provides employees with advance notice in case the employer is going for mass layoff or shutting operations. It can help employees to take steps to find alternate employment or upskill or retrain to compete in the job market. The company should file WARN notices when they anticipate that the closure or layoff will impact 50 or more employees at a single place of employment.
Under the WARN Act, employers with 100 or more full-time workers must provide written notice at least 60 days before plant closings and mass layoffs. Certain states have similar state laws, referred to as mini-WARN Acts.
The employer must give advance notice to:
- The affected parties or their representatives
- The state’s dislocated worker unit where the layoffs or closure will occur
- The chief elected official for the local governing body
- Company union if there
The State Dislocated Worker Unit provides complete information about the labor market, including job search, placement assistance, upskilling, job and entrepreneurial training, and referral for remedial education.
To help employers and employees know about their rights and responsibilities under the WARN Act, the U.S. Department of Labor provides compliance assistance materials. The WARN notice must be given as soon as the employer decides to close the plant or conduct a mass layoff and must contain the following information:
- The name and address of the location
- The details of employees affected by layoff and their positions
- Whether the layoff is permanent or if employees can be called to return to work in the future
- The expected date for layoff or business closure
- The reasons for the plant closing or mass layoff
- Employer will provide a severance package
- Point of contact who can give more details if required
Federal WARN Act Requirements
As a federal law, businesses across the U.S. must comply with the WARN Act. Failure to comply can lead to legal and financial repercussions for the company.
There are certain exceptions to the rule. For example, the act does not apply if layoffs or plant closure happens due to unforeseen circumstances such as natural disasters, fire,s or strike. Otherwise, the employer should present valid proof if they cannot provide the required notice.
Even in such cases, employers should provide as much notice as possible. If an employer fails to provide the required notice under the WARN Act, affected employees may be entitled to back pay and benefits for the period of the violation, up to a maximum of 60 days. The WARN Act also allows for civil penalties to be assessed against employers for violations of the act.
Statewise WARN Act Requirements
Many states have “mini-WARN acts,” which build upon federal regulations. Employers can find the complete information in the state labor department. In addition to States, cities may also have their requirements.
The states that have mini-WARN Act include California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Philadelphia.
California WARN Act
Employers should review the Federal and California WARN laws for businesses operating in California to know the notification requirements in full. Federal Law is Applicable only to employers with 100 or more full-time employees who must have been employed for at least six months of the 12 months preceding the date of the required notice to be counted. At the same time, California Law applies to a “covered establishment” that employs or has employed, in the preceding 12 months, 75 or more full and part-time employees.
Under the federal WARN, employees must have been employed for at least six months of the 12 months preceding the required notice date to be counted.
New York WARN Act
The New York WARN (State Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) Act requires covered businesses to provide early warnings of closures and layoffs to all affected employees, employee representatives, the Department of Labor, and Local Workforce Development Boards. Additionally, businesses must also give notice to the chief elected official of the unit or units of local government where the site of employment is. These can be the school district or districts where the job is located and each locality that provides police, firefighting, emergency medical or ambulance services, or other emergency services, to the locale.
Florida WARN Act
Florida’s WARN Act offers worker layoff protection. The WARN Act in Florida is separate from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which sets minimum wage, overtime rules, and unemployment benefits.
Florida’s Division of Workforce Services oversees WARN Act enforcement. In case of WARN Act violations, the employee has to be paid a penalty of up to $500 per day. Employers must settle liabilities within three weeks of closing or layoff. Otherwise, you can face individual and class-action lawsuits in the U.S. District Court. Speak with Florida labor lawyers.
Connecticut WARN Act
Employers of covered establishments in Connecticut are subject to additional requirements outlined in the Connecticut WARN Act. A covered establishment is defined as any industrial, commercial, or business facility which employs, or has employed at any time in the preceding 12-month period, 100 or more persons. Employers of covered establishments must pay continued group health insurance for 120 days from closing or until the employee becomes eligible for other group coverage, whichever is sooner.
Texas WARN Act
Any Texas WARN employer laying off workers may request Rapid Response services available to affected workers. The employer may request Rapid Response services for their employees. If the number of affected workers is small, employers should direct them to their Workforce Solutions office, where they can receive Rapid Response services. For more significant numbers of affected workers, onsite services are available.
Illinois WARN Act
Illinois WARN defines notice-triggering events are different from federal WARN. It applies to companies with more than 75 or more full-time employees and requires them to provide 60 days advance notice of pending plant closures or mass layoffs.
Under Illinois WARN, a “mass layoff” is a reduction in force at a single employment site.
Pennsylvania WARN Act
As soon as information is received regarding mass layoffs or plant closure is scheduled, Pennsylvania WARN law enforcement initiates rapid response assistance.
Georgia WARN Act
According to Georgia WARN Act, a mass separation is 25 or more workers separated on the same day for the same reason. The separation is permanent, indefinite, or expected at least seven days. For ease of submission, you may access the Georgia Department of Labor’s (GDOL’s) self-service WARN entry notice.
New Jersey WARN Act
A bill advancing in the New Jersey WARN Legislature would expedite the implementation of significant changes to the state’s Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) law, which requires employers to provide notice 60 days before plant closings and mass layoffs.
Latest Warn Filings Monitored by Intellizence
Every state publishes WARN notices in different frequencies ( weekly, monthly & quarterly) and formats ( PDF, CSV). However, monitoring the WARN filings across other states and normalizing the data in a standard format is expensive, time-consuming, and tedious.
Intellizence monitors and aggregates the WARN filings and notices from different states, curates them into human and machine-readable standard data format (e.g., CSV, JSON), and delivers through various delivery channels.
If you are a data analyst, sales and marketing professional, or recruiter, access the latest layoff data through the intuitive Intellizence web platform. You can power your software and applications with the latest layoff data, curated from WARN filings, by integrating seamlessly with the Intellizence Layoff Dataset API.