Worker Adjustment And Retraining Notification (WARN) Act

Protecting Employees in Illinois, Florida, New York, Colorado & Throughout the U.S.

When there is a mass layoff or plant closure, the effects can be felt not just by the workers and their families, but also by the local economy that depends upon those people as customers. The impact to the surrounding community can be quite devastating when hundreds or thousands of people lose their jobs. Early notification to employees about an upcoming layoff can be very helpful by allowing people some time to figure out their next steps in securing employment. 

In an effort to provide workers with sufficient time to seek other employment or retraining opportunities before losing their jobs, Congress passed the Worker Adjustment And Retraining Notification Act, known as the “WARN Act”. This law became effective on February 4, 1989.

What Does The WARN Act Do?

The WARN Act requires that employers provide employees (who must meet necessary conditions) with a written notice 60 days before the date of a mass layoff or plant closing. If the employer does not give the required notice, qualified employees may be able to seek damages for back pay and benefits for up to 60 days, depending on how many days’ notice they actually received. 

It’s important to note that many states have their own notice requirements when it comes to mass layoffs or plant closures, and that those rules may be different from the federal law. Employers must comply with both federal and state WARN Act laws so employees should check state laws to determine if their company is in compliance.

The Department of Labor set forth a complex list of circumstances to determine whether the WARN Act applies to certain kinds of companies, and different types of workers. It is best to consult with a qualified Employment Attorney if you believe you were not given proper legal notice.

Employees Protected By WARN Act

Employees will be protected by the WARN Act if the employer is a business with 100 or more full-time workers (not counting workers who have less than 6 months on the job and workers who work less than 20 hours per week), or employs 100 or more workers who work at least a combined 4,000 hours a week. The company must be a private for-profit business, private non-profit organization, or quasi-public entity separately organized from the regular government. 

Workers protected by WARN may be hourly or salaried workers, including managerial and supervisory employees. 

People are be protected by WARN if the job loss occurs as part of one of these conditions:

  • A plant closing, where the employer shuts down a facility or operating unit within a single site of employment and lays off at least 50 full-time workers 
  • A mass layoff, where the business lays off either between 50 and 499 full-time workers at a single site of employment and that number is 33% of the number of full-time workers at the single site of employment 
  • A situation where 500 or more full-time workers are laid off at a single site of employment 

Workers whose companies meet the above conditions are entitled to WARN notice if they:

  • Are terminated from employment, but did not voluntarily quit, retire, or are get discharged for cause
  • Are laid off for more than 6 months
  • Have their regular hours of work reduced by more than half during each month of a 6-month period 

Employees Not Protected By WARN Act

Workers are not protected by the WARN Act when any of the following situations apply:

  • Strikers, or workers who have been locked out in a labor dispute
  • Employees working on temporary projects or facilities of the business who clearly understand the temporary nature of the work when they were hired
  • Business partners, consultants, or contract employees assigned to the business but who have a separate employment relationship with another employer and are paid by that other employer, or who are self-employed
  • Regular federal, state, or local government employees

If you have questions regarding layoff or compliance with the WARN Act, contact us.

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