Warn Act | Meaning and Definition

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988, is an act which protects employees from mass layoffs. Not only employees but their families and communities, from multiple situations. These situations can include mass layoffs and planned closings. The warning has to be issued 60 calendar days in advance. This is because the individuals affected by the layoffs have to be able to plan around it. It is a U.S. labour law, which is designed to safeguard workers. The legislation mandated 60-day notice aids employees. It allows the employees to prepare for the workforce changes. Covered businesses with 100 or more full-time employees (excluding full-time employees) are required to notify their workforce. 

Elements of The WARN Act

There are multiple elements which constitute the WARN Act. All of the elements ensure that employees have ample time to react, and employers stay proactive:

  • Applicability to private entities- The WARN Act applies to private entities operating in the United States. It covers businesses with 100 or more full-time employees. It has the exclusion of part-time staff. The applicability of private entities ensures that any private firm has the WARN Act applied to them.
  • Notice period- The 60-day notice period ensures that all employees and workers have ample time to react. Allowing for adequate preparation time for employees is extremely beneficial. This is because they get enough time to apply for new jobs, or search opportunities elsewhere. 
  • Events Triggering Notice Requirement- There are multiple events which can trigger the issuing of the WARN act, or its notice. Some of the events include significant employment events, layoffs, and planned closings. 
  • Administration by the U.S. Department of Labor- The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) plays a central role in administering the WARN Act. Administering the WARN Act is a long procedure. It involves providing guidance on compliance, interpreting the Act’s provisions, and assisting employers and employees in understanding their rights and obligations.
  • Integral Compliance for Workforce Changes- Compliance with the WARN Act is integral for businesses undergoing significant workforce changes. Non-compliance can result in legal repercussions, making it imperative for covered entities to understand and adhere to the Act’s key components.

Exemptions of the WARN Act

There are multiple exemptions to the WARN Act. They serve as counters, where the use of the WARN act will not be available. The 60-day notice might also not be applicable, reducing it to a couple of days, or none. The exemptions include unforeseeable business circumstances and natural disasters. Some of these circumstances might include drastic market changes because of natural disasters, and other reasons. Employers might also be exempt from the notice requirement. This is only if the circumstances leading to layoffs are sudden and unavoidable. Triggering events, such as plant closures or mass layoffs exceeding the threshold, create the need for a notice. Certain conditions allow for exemptions based on the nature of the event. 

Government Guidance

Government guidance is essential when it comes to the WARN Act. It is important because employees need to have an adequate amount of time to be able to consider job opportunities. The U.S. Department of Labor offers guidance to employers on applying for exemptions. They indicate that employers should seek clarification from relevant authorities. They do this with legal requirements. This emphasizes the importance of exemptions within the framework of the act itself.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

WARN stands for The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (of 1988).

It is an act which protects employees from mass layoffs and gives employees a 60-day notice.

Workplaces with over 100 full-time employees, fall under the WARN Act applicability.