Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act)

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act) requires covered employers to provide advance notice of significant workforce reductions. This requirement is intended to protect employees, their families, and communities by giving employees a transition period in which they can adjust to losing their jobs, obtain other work, or pursue training.

Although the basic idea behind the WARN Act is fairly straightforward, the law is filled with technical requirements that can trip you up. In a nutshell, the WARN Act requires businesses that have at least 100 employees to give 60 days' advance notice of any mass layoff or plant closing to affected employees, unions, and local and state governments.

Several different groups of people are entitled to WARN Act notice, including:

  • Employees affected by the workforce reduction or representatives of the affected employees (such as a union if unionized);
  • The state's dislocated worker unit, which responds on-site to assist workers facing job losses; and
  • The local government in which the facility is located.

The DOL's regulations prescribe what must be included in the WARN Act notices. Although the specific content differs depending on who it is directed to, notices generally have to include the following information:

  • The expected date when the layoff or plant closing will begin, as well as the date when the individual employee receiving the notice will be affected;
  • The name and address of the facilities that will be affected, as well as the name and telephone number of a company representative to contact for additional information;
  • A statement regarding whether the reduction in force is temporary or permanent, and whether the entire plant or just parts of it will be affected;
  • The expected date of the first layoff and an anticipated schedule for any future layoffs; and
  • The positions that will be affected and the names of the employees who currently hold those positions.

Exceptions

Several exceptions to providing WARN Act notice are available in situations that might make giving such notice next to impossible. Some of these exceptions reduce the advance notice time period, such as when a company is "faltering," suffers unforeseeable business circumstances, or experiences a natural disaster. Others eliminate the need for notice altogether; for example, no notice is required to temporary employees, or in the event of a strike or lockout.

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