Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act)

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act) is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration (DOLETA). It requires most employers with 100 or more employees to provide employees, bargaining representatives of the employees (i.e., unions), and specific government agencies at least 60 days notice of any plant closing and mass layoff.

The purpose of the WARN Act is to give workers and their families some transition time to prepare for the prospective loss of employment, to seek a new job, and, if necessary, to seek training in a new skill or retraining in an existing skill that will allow the workers to obtain replacement work.

Generally, WARN covers employers with 100 or more employees, not including:

  • employees who have worked less than six (6) months in the last 12 months, and
  • employees who work an average of less than 20 hours a week.

Employers must provide the WARN notice to all employees, including managers and supervisors.

An employer must provide the required notice when its closes a plant or effectuates a mass layoff. The number of affected workers is the total number laid off during a 30 day (or in some cases 90 day) period.

A plant closing includes:

  • the closing of a facility for more than six (6) months,
  • the shut down of an operating unit for more than six (6) months, or
  • when 50 or more employees are laid off during any 30 day period at a single location.

A mass layoff occurs when a layoff, lasting at least six months, affects either:

  • 500 or more workers. or
  • at least 33% of the workforce when the layoff affects between 50 and 499 workers.

State WARN Laws

Each state has a designated office or officer with which the WARN notice must be filed. See State Rapid Response Coordinators. Additionally, seven (7) states have more stringent notification requirements than those in the WARN Act.

State WARN Act Laws and Rapid Response Coordinators.