S. Amir Kohan

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) (1988)

This was the first attempt by Congress to involve local communities early in the private sector’s downsizing process. It also prevented employers from just shutting the door and walking away without any worker benefits. It applies to all employers with 100 or more full-time workers at a single facility. The law specifies a qualifying employer to be one that has 100 or more employees who in the aggregate work at least 4,000 hours per week (exclusive of hours of overtime).

Definitions
The term plant closing refers to the permanent or temporary shutdown of a single site of employment, or one or more facilities or operating units within a single site of employment, if the shutdown results in an employment loss at the single site of employment during any 30-day period for 50 or more employees, excluding any part-time employees.

The term mass layoff refers to a reduction in force that is not the result of a plant closing and results in an employment loss at the single site of employment during any 30-day period for (1) at least 500 employees to be laid off from a workforce of 500 or more; or
(2) when at least 33 percent of the workforce (excluding any part-time employees) are going to be removed from the payroll in a layoff where there are a total of 50 to 499workers before the layoff.

Required Actions
The law requires 60 days’ advance notice to employees of a plant closing or mass layoffs. Any employment loss of 50 or more people, excluding part-time workers, is considered a trigger event to activate the requirements. Notification of public officials in the sur-
rounding community in addition to notification of employees is a requirement. The local community leaders must be informed and invited to participate in the process of finding new jobs for laid-off workers. There is a provision that says an employer can pay
60 days’ separation allowance if it gives no notice to workers who will be terminated.


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