What Is the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN)?

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act is a labor law that protects employees when companies do mass layoffs or close a plant. This law requires employees to give advance notice to employees for qualified plant closings or mass layoffs.

Why Is the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Important?

The WARN Act is in place to protect employees, their families and communities. Mass layoffs and plants shutting down affect a lot of people, and that can often be forgotten by companies. The WARN Act was put in place so that companies provide the necessary time for a large number of their workforce losing their jobs to find new positions. Here are some other reasons why WARN is important.

  • Transition time. The WARN act allows the employees being let go, as well as the company, to prepare for the transition. While the employees being laid off are the most impacted by unemployment, companies losing a large number of their staff need to adjust. They need to determine who will take over the roles of the employees being laid off, think of the long-term impact of the company, and consider how it will affect hiring. The company can also see where they might be able to find jobs within the company for laid-off employees.
  • Protect employees. The WARN act helps protect employees. If a company doesn’t plan well and chooses to lay off much of their staff, they can’t lay them all off tomorrow and not pay them anything if a WARN notice is required. Doing this may cause a company to face penalties of paying these employees both salary and benefits for up to 60 days.
  • Create transparency. The WARN act helps create transparency between the employer and employee. It helps companies be more conscious of layoff decisions. Layoff decisions are never easy, but a company’s awareness of potential consequences from WARN can encourage them to be more open and transparent with employees about potential layoffs. The WARN act helps keep companies accountable.

Requirements for a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN)

On the surface, WARN seems like a pretty straightforward act about giving laid-off employees enough notice. However, not all employees are protected by it, nor is it required for all employers. Here is further explanation on which employers are required to provide a WARN notification, which employees are protected under WARN, and what triggers WARN. Some states have their own mini WARN acts. To determine if the state you or your employees work in has one of these mini WARN acts, consult your state’s department of labor.

Employers Required to Provide WARN

Employers are required to provide WARN for “closing a plant” or doing mass layoffs if they employ at least 100 full-time employees or a combination of at least 100 part-time and full-time employees working a total of 4,000 hours per week .

Employees Protected Under WARN

Full-time employees who work for an employer who is required to provide a WARN are protected. If an employee has been employed for less than 120 days, a notice of half the number of days they have been employed is required. For example, if an employee has been employed for 2 months or 60 days, only a 30 days notice is required for this employee.

Circumstances That Trigger WARN

Circumstances that trigger a WARN are if a WARN-required employer closes a plant or conducts a mass layoff of their workforce. A “plant closing” refers to the temporary or full-time shutdown of a single employment or facility building that employs 50 or more full-time employees within any 30-day period. A mass-layoff is when at least 50 full-time employees are laid off over a 30 day period if they make up at least a third of the workforce, or when 500 full-time employees are laid off during a 30-day period regardless of the size of the workforce.

How to File a WARN Notice

No specific form of WARN is required. The key is to make sure all notices are written, not just said. Here are the steps to take to be compliant with providing a WARN.

Step 1: Write the Notice

Notice must be written. The information in the notice needs to be specific and clear to the employees being laid off.

Step 2: Provide Written Notice 60 Days Prior

Once written, the notice needs to be provided to each employee 60 days prior to being laid off.

Step 3: Provide Notice to All Required Parties

Written notice should be provided to all employees being laid off, the chief elected officer of exclusive representatives, and the bargaining agency (such as a union) for affected employees. In addition, the notice should be given to the state dislocated worker unit and the chief elected official for the unit of local government in the area where the employment site is located.

What Should Be Included in a WARN?

When filing a WARN notice, a few things need to be included. Here are the main components to include.

Company Information

The name of the company and address of the location being shut down or being affected by a mass layoff need to be included.

Official Company Information

All official company information needs to be included, such as the name and phone number of a company official who can be contacted for more information on the layoff or plant shutdown.

Statement Details

In the WARN notice, you should provide details on whether this layoff or plant shutdown is permanent or temporary. If it is temporary, a timeline of when it will be reopened should be provided. It should also indicate whether it’s the full plant, or only part of it.