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What Is the WARN Act?

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  • Written By: K.C. Bruning
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 15 June 2018
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    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act is a law that requires employers to give employees in large companies 60 days notice before activating layoffs. It was enacted primarily to protect employees in companies with a massive work force that also has a strong effect on the local economy, such as large plants. The purpose of the act is to give affected employees the opportunity to seek new employment or training while they are still receiving a paycheck. WARN also gives local government and other employment agencies and support groups in the community time to adjust to the new influx of unemployed workers. It is typically enforced in conjunction with specific local laws concerning layoffs.

While the WARN Act does not necessarily protect employees in all large companies, it does apply to the majority of organizations that have over 100 workers. This typically includes both non-profit and for-profit organizations and public and private employers. It usually does not include government employers.

Hourly and salaried workers at all levels of an organization are typically covered by the WARN Act. This does not include business partners, however, nor does it usually protect employees who work less than half time or who have worked less then one half of the previous year for the company in question. It also does not protect an employee who leaves due to retirement, termination for performance or related reasons, or someone who voluntary departs from the company.

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The WARN Act typically requires that other related individuals and organizations outside the company be informed of mass layoffs as well. This can include politicians, such as the highest local elected official. It may also include organizations that represent worker rights, such as unions, and any local government organizations that may be called upon to help find employment for workers.

Typical incidents that are covered by the WARN Act include economy-driven large-scale layoffs and the sale of a company that includes massive employee changes or plant closures. It can also be used to protect workers if two or more departments of a specific size in a company are closed. The overall rule is that the act goes into effect if more than 50 workers will lose their jobs over the course of a month.

In addition to the permanent loss of employment, the WARN Act covers other incidents that reduce employee hours. This includes anything over a 50% reduction of worker hours that is either permanent or that happens every month over the course of half a year. It also covers any layoff that lasts longer than half a year.

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