When should an employer assess whether the WARN Act applies to an upcoming layoff?

Author: Michael C. Jacobson, XpertHR Legal Editor

Best practice is to evaluate the layoff at least 90 days in advance.

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act requires covered employers to provide at least 60 days' notice to employees in the event of a triggering event like closure of an entire facility or layoff of a large enough portion of the workforce. In those situations, the employer must contact the workers themselves, the local "disaffected workers unit," the chief executive of the local government (typically the mayor) and union representatives, if applicable.

Prior to these notifications, which must be in-hand to the designated individuals at least 60 days prior to the day of closure or termination, the company should perform an extensive analysis to ascertain whether the closure or layoff (including its resulting terminations) may expose the company to future legal liability. This process can take some time as employers must prepare notifications and severance packages in addition to the analysis.