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Employers - Before Layoffs Be WARN Aware

Employers - Before Layoffs Be WARN Aware
Pat Dickson - Thu May 17, 2012 @ 10:14AM
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If you have 100 or more employees and might layoff or reduce the pay of 50 or more of them during any 90 day period, study the requirements of the WARN Act before you do anything. You may have to provide all affected employees 60 days prior written notice. If you don't, it could cost you!

This is not the precise law of the WARN Act, but a conservative rule of thumb I try to follow in assuring my clients don't accidentally violate its many provisions. The WARN Act can be viewed as quite complicated Federal legislation. It isn't easy to sum up in a few points, or as a concise rule. Plus, rather than restate what has already been written, I refer you to what I believe is the best source on the matter. The Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration provides:

WARN Employer's Guide


WARN Act stands for "Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act." It was signed into US Federal Law in 1988 because the US Congress and the President desired to protect workers and their families from mass layoffs and plant closures. The hope was that giving affected workers 60 days prior notice would allow them fair and adequate time to seek new employment, to relocate, to pursue new educational opportunities, to begin training for alternative work, or to begin seeking private or public financial support. 60 day notice must also be given to the State Rapid Response Dislocated Worker Unit, a Local Chief Elected Official, and any relevant union or labor representatives. Upon notice, these 3rd parties will often get involved with providing assistance to affected employees. 


An employer failing to give notice can be responsible for paying up to 60 days of back pay, per employee, plus a penalty of $500 per day, per employee, plus attorneys' fees and costs. Failing to give notice to 100 employees can alone equal a penalty of $50,000 per day, and that's not including back pay, attorneys' fees or costs.

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