What is the WARN act?

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) protects workers during certain types of layoffs. It requires employers to warn employees of upcoming layoffs ahead of time.

As a heads up: the WARN act doesn’t tend to affect small businesses. Instead, it typically applies to businesses who need to terminate 50 or more employees at a time.

What do employers need to do under the WARN Act?

If a layoff meets the conditions specified under the WARN Act (see full list below), the law requires that employers provide written notice at least 60 calendar days in advance of the impending layoffs. This notice can help affected workers plan accordingly.

When does a layoff fall under the WARN Act?

According to the US Department of Labor (DOL), the WARN Act becomes active if an employer:

  • Closes a facility or discontinues an operating unit permanently or temporarily, affecting at least 50 employees, not counting part-time workers, at a single site of employment.
  • Lays off more than 500 workers (not counting part-time workers) at a single site of employment during a 30-day period.
  • Lays off 50-499 workers (not counting part-time workers), and these layoffs constitute 33% of the employer’s total active workforce (not counting part-time workers) at the single site of employment.
  • Announces a temporary layoff of less than six months that meets either of the two criteria above and then decides to extend the layoff for more than six months.
  • Reduces the hours of work for 50 or more workers by more than 50% for each month in any six-month period.

If you want to learn more, check out this article on the WARN Act.

This article provides general information and shouldn’t be construed as legal or HR advice. Since employment laws may change over time and can vary by location and industry, please consult a lawyer or HR expert for advice specific to your business.