Layoffs might be necessary for employers to keep their business open, but they also spell bad news for those losing their job. No employee wants to be hit by a surprise layoff that leaves them little time to find new work.
Federal law and state law recognize that unanticipated layoff causes employees to suffer significant hardships, and for this reason, the government has enacted Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) laws that require employers to provide employees with advanced notice of layoffs or face penalties.
What is the New York State WARN Act?
The New York State WARN Act requires covered employers to provide advanced notice of layoffs or business closures to workers and others who will be affected by these actions.
Private employers with 50 or more full-time workers are subject to the WARN Act. These employers must provide workers and other affected entities with 90 days advanced notice of:
- Closings that will impact at least 25 workers
- Mass layoffs impacting at least 25 full-time workers (when the 25 or more workers constitute a minimum of one-third of all workers at the site)
- Mass layoffs of at least 250 full-time workers at any percentage of the employer’s workforce
- Some relocations and reductions in work hours
Employers who do not comply with WARN Act requirements must pay workers back wages and benefits. Employers who do not comply with the WARN Act can also be fined. The WARN Act does not preclude workers from pursuing legal action against their employer.
The aim of the WARN Act
The aim of the WARN act is to give workers the time needed to find new employment while reducing the time they must spend collecting unemployment insurance.
The WARN Act also gives the Department of Labor and Local Workforce Development Boards the opportunity to provide affected workers with information about unemployment benefits and programs that will help them find new employment.
The WARN Act is also good for employers. Employers incur fewer costs when laid off workers spend less time collecting unemployment benefits. Compliance with state laws such as the WARN Act can also help employers avoid penalties.