Eligible individuals must have worked at a plant with at least 50 employees or been part of a mass layoff of at least 500 workers. However, if the mass layoff affected 50-499 workers, and this makes up 33% of the workforce, the individual is also eligible.
Employees not given advanced notice of a plant layoff or closing may not have enough time to properly prepare for a job loss.
The WARN Act aims to allow employees and their families the opportunity to prepare for an upcoming job loss or plant closure.
The Warn Act became effective in 1989.
The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) protects workers and their families by mandating that employers give their employees a 60-day advance notice of mass layoffs or plant closings. Generally, if an employer retains 100 or more employees, notice of a mass layoff or plant closing should be provided to the workers or their labor union. This number does not include employees working less than 20 hours per week and those who worked less than 6 months during the past 12 months.
A plant closing occurs when an employment site is closed, resulting in a job loss for at least 50 employees during any 30-day period. A mass layoff can be defined as a job loss at an employment site for at least 500 hundred workers during any 30-day period. However, if 50-499 workers lose their jobs and this amount makes up 33% of the workforce, this is also deemed a mass layoff. In addition, a job loss refers to employment termination not due to misconduct; a layoff lasting longer than 6 months; or a cut in hours by 50% or more per month in any 6-month period.
Employees must receive notice of a mass layoff or plant closing in writing within 60 days. If workers do not receive a WARN notice, the employer must pay each employee benefits and back pay up to 60 days. The employer may also be subject to a civil penalty.
Some states, including New Jersey, New York and California, have state WARN acts in addition to the federal regulations. These state WARN acts often offer more protection for workers affected by mass layoffs and plant closings.