The WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) Act is a federal law that requires certain employers to provide notice to employees in the event of a plant closing or mass layoff. The purpose of the law is to provide workers with enough time to prepare for the transition and seek new employment opportunities. Here are some steps employers can take to comply with the WARN Act when conducting layoffs.
Determine whether the WARN Act applies to you.
The WARN Act applies to employers with 100 or more employees, excluding part-time employees, who work a combined 4,000 hours or more per week. Employers must provide at least 60 days’ notice to affected employees before a plant closing or mass layoff.
A “plant closing” occurs when an employment site shuts down either temporarily or permanently. The site does not need to be a “plant” in the traditional sense. Instead, it is considered any single site of employment, or one or more units within a site, that results in 50 or more employees facing employment loss within a 30-day period.
Provide the required notices to employees and government agencies.
Employers must provide at least 60 days’ notice before a plant closing or mass layoff. If circumstances require the layoff to occur sooner, employers must provide as much notice as possible and explain the reason for the shortened notice period.
Employers must provide written notice to affected employees, their representatives (such as a union), and state/local governments. The notice should include the reason for the layoff, the anticipated date of the layoff, and any benefits that will be provided to affected employees. In addition to notifying affected employees, employers must notify the appropriate state and local government agencies. The exact requirements for notifying these agencies vary by state.
Provide Required Benefits
Also be sure to provide all required benefits. If your business is subject to COBRA, you must provide employees with information on how to continue health insurance coverage. Additionally, employees may be entitled to severance pay or other benefits, depending on your company’s policies.
The best way to stay compliant is to avoid laying off employees in large numbers. However, when that is not possible and a reduction in your workforce is unavoidable, you can always consult with an attorney or human resources professional to ensure you are in compliance with the law. It’s important to note that the WARN Act can be complex, and there are exceptions and special circumstances that may apply.