WARN Act in New Jersey: How To Stay Compliant
August 23, 2018 by Aley Brown
If you are looking to layoff employees in New Jersey, you will need to make sure that you comply with all WARN Act regulations. This will ensure that your employees are treated fairly, and that you are not penalized for your layoff.
To understand how to comply with the WARN Act in New Jersey, we will have to look at three different areas:
- Does my event qualify me to abide by federal WARN Act regulations?
- What federal regulations must I comply with?
- What state regulations must I comply with in New Jersey?
Before we dig into our analysis of all three of these areas, make sure to download our simple WARN Act checklist with the link below:
What qualifies a layoff to have to comply with the WARN Act?
The WARN Act has several regulations that shape who the law should be applied to. It states:
- The WARN Act applies to your organization if you have over 100 full-time employees
- The WARN Act applies to all publicly and privately held companies
- The WARN Act applies to all organizations that are for-profit or not-for-profit
- A WARN notice must be given if there is a plant closing or a mass layoff
So, if you are an organization that has less than 100 full-time employees (FTEs), you do not have to comply with the WARN Act. If you have over 100 full time employees, the WARN Act will apply to you regardless of being public or private, for-profit or not-for-profit.
Those regulations are fairly simple to understand. The last one: “A WARN notice must be given if there is a plant closing or a mass layoff”, is a little bit more complicated because of the ambiguity of a “mass layoff” or “plant closing”.
According to LexisNexis, a plant closing is:
“If one or more facilities or operating units in a given location anticipate a shutdown that will affect more than 50 workers AND last more than 30 days.”
And a mass layoff is:
“If a series of layoffs over a 30 day period will result in the loss of 500 or more employees, WARN Act Notice must be given. Also, if a series of layoffs of more than 50 or less than 500 employees over a 30 day period will result in a loss of 1/3rd of the workforce, WARN notice must be given.”
Now, let’s run through a couple of examples:
1. A manufacturing company in Syracuse, New York has 45 employees. The organization is laying off over half of its employees due to the loss of a business contract.
Since the company has less than 100 employees, it does not have to give a WARN notice.
2. A non-profit organization with over 500 employees will be closing down an office in Sacramento, resulting in 134 employees being permanently laid off.
Since the company has more than 100 employees, and the facility that is closing will affect more than 50 employees for more than 30 days, giving a WARN notice is required.
Makes sense, right?
How To Comply With Federal WARN Act Regulations
To comply with the WARN Act, you will need to let your affected employees know 60 days in advance of their last day with the organization. This can be done through several different delivery methods, as long as it is given in writing. The United States Department of Labor states that any reasonable method of delivery is applicable. However, according to the United States Department of Labor:
“Use of preprinted notices that are regularly included in employees’ paychecks or pay envelopes are not acceptable and do not meet the WARN Act requirements.”
This means that if your organization regularly gives out notices about the workplace with your paychecks, providing a WARN notice this way isn’t sufficient. This is because your employees might not notice the notice since they are regularly given notices through this delivery method.
When creating your WARN notice to be given to employees, make sure to include the following items:
- Notify notice receivers of the upcoming reduction in force
- Explain whether this layoff will be permanent or if the workers can expect to be called to work again
- A time-frame of when layoffs will occur and when their position will be affected
- Your organization’s policy on bumping rights
- Severance benefits that your organization will provide
- Who the employees should contact for further information at your organization (usually an HR representative)
To comply with the WARN Act, your organization must also provide a notice to your government about your reduction event. Similar to the notice given to employees, this notice must be given 60 days in advance.
According to the US Department of Labor, “the employer must also provide notice to the State dislocated worker unit and to the chief elected official of the unit of local government in which the employment site is located.”
New Jersey WARN Act Regulations
As you already know, there are federal regulations resulting from the WARN Act that all states must abide by.
But, some states also have more stringent regulations specific for the companies located in their state. (And also for employees working in the state – think of telecommuters).
New Jersey, along with several others states, are among those that have more stringent regulations that companies must follow.
The New Jersey WARN Act applies to all organization that have more than 100 employees, and who have had business operations for more than 3 years.
The New Jersey WARN Act also has tighter definitions of what constitutes a plant closing or a mass layoff:
Plant Closings: A transfer of operations or a termination of operations during any continuous period of 30 days which results in the termination of employment of 50 or more full-time employees.
Mass Layoff: Results in an employment loss at an establishment during any 30 day period for 500 or more full-time employees, or for 50 or more full-time employees representing one third or more of the full-time employees at the establishment.
The WARN Act in New Jersey requires that you provide notice to both the terminated employee and their collective bargaining units.
While the federal WARN Act requires that you give a notice to your government official, New Jersey also requires you to provide notice to your local municipality official, as well as the commissioner of the labor and workforce development department.
Layoff laws in New Jersey also have more detailed requirements as to what information must be provided to employees in their layoff notices:
- Information on the number of employees that will be laid off and the dates of the terminations
- A statement as to why the layoffs are happening
- A list of any employment available elsewhere for the employee by the employer
- A list of all of the employee’s rights in regards to severance, pensions, etc
- A disclosure of the amount of severance pay
- A statement about the employee’s right to receive from the response team, any public programs, and their employee rights
Finally, one of the biggest differences between the New Jersey WARN Act and the Federal WARN Act is how severance is handled.
In New Jersey, if an organization does not give a full 60 days notice, severance is required by the employer to each full time employee that is laid off. The New Jersey WARN Act regulation also states that the severance will be paid based on the tenure at the organization, equal to one week of pay for each year and employee has been employed.
Always consult with your corporate counsel before executing a layoff event, and when researching laws regarding layoffs in your location.
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