Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification
The acronym “WARN” in the New York State Warn Act stands for Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification. Under this law, certain businesses must provide early warnings about closure and layoffs. The law requires them to warn:
- Employee representatives
- The Department of Labor
- Workforce development boards
The purpose for early warnings is to give people time to make the transition, to seek other work or enter training programs. It also enables the DOL and local workforce development boards to provide workers with assistance.
Unexpected closures and layoffs were numerous during the coronavirus pandemic. In response to these types of issues, the WARN Act put demands on employers that were difficult to foresee.
Originally, the WARN Act required employers to provide 90 days’ advanced notice. However, that requirement seemed impractical during COVID-19. Businesses could not predict circumstances that were beyond their control. For example, government mandated closure and school closings were not under company control. For this reason, the DOL would determine whether an exception applied due to uncontrollable circumstances.
However, the rule stands that when businesses do have situations under their control that result in closures and layoffs, they are expected to give advance notification.
- Employers must send notices to the Department of Labor by mail or email to the following addresses:
- New York State Department of Labor- WARN Unit
- Building 12, Room 425
- State Office Campus
- Albany, New York 12240
What businesses does the WARN Act apply to?
The WARN Act applies to the following:
- Closings that affect 25 or more workers
- Mass layoffs affecting 25 or more full-time workers (if 25 or more workers comprise 33% percent of the total workers at the site)
- Mass layoffs involving 250 or more full-time workers
- Certain relocations or reductions in work hours
When in violation of WARN requirements, penalties include a civil penalty along with owing back wages and benefits to employees.