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What is the WARNS Act?

According to the Department of Labor, The Warns Act (Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act) is "protection to workers, their families and communities by requiring employers to provide notice 60 days in advance of covered plant closings and covered mass layoffs.

"This notice must be provided to either affected workers or their representatives (e.g., a labor union); to the State dislocated worker unit; and to the appropriate unit of local government."

Employer and Employee Coverage Qualifications

A company is covered under the WARN Act if they employ more than 100 fulltime employees that have worked more than 6 months in the last 12 months and over 20 hours a week.  Private, for-profit employers and private, nonprofit employers are covered, as are public and quasi-public entities which operate in a commercial context and are separately organized from the regular government. Regular Federal, State, and local government entities which provide public services are not covered.

Qualified employees must be fulltime and be paid hourly or salary. This protection is also extended to cover employees who hold managers or supervisor positions.

Sale of Business Notification

The employer is required to inform the workers 60 days before the sale of the business. In addition to this there are other notification requirements such as;

  • Notice must be given if there will be any layoffs or closing of the business in order to prepare for the sale.
  • The seller must inform employees if there will be a layoff or closing during the transfer of ownership.
  • Once the sale is complete, the new owner is responsible for informing employees of any layoffs or closings that will happen in order for to establish new business practices.

Business Exemption Claus

There are exceptions to when an employer is required to notify its employees of layoffs and or closings such as;

  • The closing of a temporary work facility.
  • If a closing or layoff is due to the completion of a job project.
  • If the employees were hired at a temporary facility with understand of the job ending dates.
  • If the workers belong to a labor negotiation organization such as The Union or others of its kind.
  • Employers are not required to give notice to workers involved in a voluntary strike.
  • If notice would hinder a business loan or new business plan tried in attempt to keep the company open.
  • Natural disasters such as storm, fire, or flood.

Notification of Layoff or Closing Due To Strike

An employer may be forced for lay off workers involved in a strike which may result in the business closing temporarily. When the employer believes this will need to happen they must inform certain people within 60 days of layoff or closing. These people include:

  • The representative of the bargaining agency such as the (Union Representative.) This person is the one who will inform their members that they are being laid off or replaced due to strike activities.
  • Full-time employees who are not involved in the strike.
  • This notice also includes part-time employees that are being laid off or affected directly because of strike activities.
  • The employer must inform the representative of the state in which the business is located, as well as local officials.

Penalties and Enforcement

An employer can be penalized if they close without providing warning of layoffs and closures within the time stated under the WARNS Act guidelines.

Anyone who is directly affected by a violation of the Act is entitled to a hearing in a district court. The results of the hearing will determine what penalties will or will not be enforced. 

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