New Jersey Mini-WARN Act Brings Broad New Requirements
Author: David B. Weisenfeld
January 17, 2023
New Jersey employers will soon face a major expansion of the state's mini-Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. Under amendments signed by Gov. Phil Murphy last week, employers with 100 or more employees must comply with the following heightened requirements as of April 10:
- Providing 90 days' notice (up from 60 days') to affected employees as part of a mass layoff, plant closing or transfer of operations;
- Providing mandatory severance pay equal to one week of pay for each full year of employment (a first-of-its-kind mini-WARN requirement nationwide);
- Reducing the number of employees needed to qualify for a mass layoff at, or reporting to, a particular establishment to 50 employees during any 30-day period (instead of 500 or more full-time employees during any 30-day period or 50 or more full-time employees representing at least one-third of the workforce);
- Including part-time employees so they count toward the employee threshold and also are entitled to 90 days' notice and severance pay (previously only full-time employees counted); and
- Broadening the definition of an establishment so that counting employees is not limited to a single site of employment.
In addition, if employers fail to provide 90 days' notice to covered employees, they must pay them an additional four weeks of severance. The amendments also impose personal liability on anyone acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer if they fail to comply with the notice and severance provisions.
New Jersey's planned expansion of its mini-WARN Act was originally supposed to take effect in the summer of 2020. But as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Murphy had issued an executive order postponing the effective date of the changes until 90 days after the Garden State declared an end to its COVID-19 state of emergency.
While the state of emergency remains in effect, New Jersey decided to push forward with the mini-WARN Act amendments and separate them from the state of emergency. Gov. Murphy agreed and signed the legislation.
Still excluded from New Jersey's mini-WARN Act are mass layoffs due to natural disasters or emergencies, including:
- An act of war;
- Civil disorder;
- Industrial sabotage.