What is the WARN Act?

Employment Law September 19th, 2023
CA WARN Act-People working together at a meeting CA WARN Act-People working together at a meeting

In 1988, the U.S. Congress passed the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act which requires certain employers who plan a mass layoff to give a minimum of a 60-day notice to the employees to give them time to find another job or to pursue training for a new career if necessary.

Subsequently, California passed its own WARN Act. The two acts are very similar, but the CA WARN Act gives more employees greater protection than the federal law.

What is the California WARN Act

The California WARN Act, like the federal WARN Act, requires employers who plan mass layoffs to give employees a minimum of a 60-day notice of the plan to terminate their employment. 

The Act requires notice to be given if:

  • The company has at least 75 workers, including part-time workers, or had 75 workers within the previous 12 months.
  • The company plans a mass layoff of 50 or more employees within a 30-day period.
  • The company plans on closing a plant.
  • The company plans to relocate a plant to a distance of 100 or more miles.
  • The company plans on selling the business and the sale has the potential of laying off employees.

The federal WARN Act applies to companies that employ at least 100 or more full-time employees who worked for at least six out of the previous 12 months. There are other differences, but the federal law does not cover as many employees as the California law and is somewhat more restrictive.

There are some industries that are exempt from the California WARN Act and some workers, like independent contractors, who are not covered by the Act. Consult a CA employment attorney to see if your employer is one who is covered.

WARN Act Notice Requirements

There are specific requirements for the notice under both federal and California WARN Acts:

  • The notice must be given a minimum of 60 days prior to the layoff date.
  • It must be given in writing.
  • It must be given separately and not just included with a paycheck.
  • It must say whether the layoff is expected to be temporary or permanent and what, if any, are the future plans for the employee’s position.
  • It must include the job titles of those being let go.
  • Inform the employee about how many employees are being let go.
  • The effective date of the layoff and the last day the employee is expected to be.
  • The contact information for a company official who can answer employees’ questions and provide more information.

The WARN notices must also be sent to the California Employment Development Department and to the chief elected official of the local government where the layoffs are occurring.

WARN Act Violation Penalties

Violations of the WARN Act come with stiff penalties that include:

  • Pay and benefits for 60 days.
  • Fines of $500 per day for every violation.
  • May be required to pay the medical expenses of the wrongfully laid-off employees.

Contact D.Law If You’re Experiencing Employment Issues

If you think your employer engaged in a mass layoff or closed or relocated a business location without proper notice, call D.Law as soon as possible at (818) 275-5799 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with an employment lawyer. Our employment lawyers represent employees who have experienced a layoff in violation of the WARN Act or have any other employment issues.

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