EMPLOYEE RIGHTS UNDER THE WARN ACT

EMPLOYEE RIGHTS UNDER THE WARN ACT

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (“WARN”) Act, a federal law, became effective on February 4, 1989. The Act protects workers by requiring employers to provide notice 60 days in advance of covered plant closings and covered mass layoffs. This notice is given to affected workers or their representatives, such as a labor union.

WARN applies to large employers, specifically, an employer must give notice of impending lay-offs or reductions in force if they have 100 or more full-time employees, or at least 100 employees who work a combined 4,000 hours or more per week.  “Full time,” for these purposes, means working 20 or more hours per week.  Furthermore, employees must have worked for the employer for at least six of the 12 months before notice is required.  While business owners and partners are not entitled to notice under the Act, the protections of WARN extend to hourly workers as well as salaried workers, managers, and supervisors. 

Notice is required to reach the affected workers at least 60 days before a closing or layoff.  When the individual employment separations involving a closing or layoff occur on more than one day, the notices are due to the representatives at least 60 days before each separation.  If a worker is not represented, each worker’s notice is due at least 60 days before that worker’s separation. 

There are some exceptions to the notice requirement.  The Act does not require an employer to give notice if a plant closing is the closing of a temporary facility, or if the closing or mass layoff is the result of the completion of a particular project or undertaking.  This exemption applies only if the workers were hired with the express understanding that their employment was temporary and limited to the duration of the facility, project, or undertaking.  An employer may not avoid the notice requirement by labeling an ongoing project as “temporary” in order to evade its obligations under WARN.

Employers who fail to abide by the WARN act may be penalized.  An employer who violates WARN provisions by ordering a plant closing or mass layoff without providing appropriate notice is liable to each aggrieved employee for an amount including back pay and benefits for the period of violation, up to 60 days.  


The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (�WARN�) Act, a federal law, became effective on February 4, 1989. The Act protects workers by requiring employers to provide notice 60 days in advance of covered plant closings and covered mass layoffs. This notice is given to affected workers or their representatives, such as a labor union.