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Jobs and Employment
Amendments to NJ WARN Act Expand Worker Protections
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On January 21, 2020, Governor Murphy signed a bill to expand protections for laid-off workers under the Millville Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Notification Act (NJ WARN Act). The NJ WARN Act requires employers to give employees advance notice of layoffs and severance pay in certain situations. It is important to note, however, that the law makes an exception for layoffs during national emergencies. Thus, employers forced to lay off workers as a result of the current COVID-19 national emergency (declared on March 13, 2020) are not required to comply with the statute’s notice and severance requirements. Previously, the NJ WARN Act only applied to mass layoffs of 500 or more full-time employees, representing at least one-third of the company, and all working in a single place of employment. In those situations, the NJ WARN Act required employers to give workers at least 60 days advance notice of a layoff. An employer who failed to give at least 60 days’ notice was required to give workers severance pay.

Amendments expand the reach of the NJ WARN protections

Under the newly amended statute, employers with at least 100 employees (instead of 500) must provide 90 (instead of 60) days’ notice when 50 or more employees are to be laid off. The NJ WARN Act no longer requires a layoff of 33% of the workforce. The 50 or more employees that trigger NJ WARN Act protections may be full-time or part-time, and all of the employer’s laid-off employees from throughout the state count towards the total number of layoffs, not just those in a single place of employment. Even those employees who do not actually work at the employer’s place of employment, but simply “report to” the facility, now count as employees for the purposes of the NJ WARN Act.

When the NJ WARN Act is triggered, the law requires employers to give all terminated employees severance pay of one week’s pay for each year of employment. If the employer fails to provide the required 90-day notice, the employer must increase the severance payment by four weeks of pay. In all of these ways, the NJ WARN Act significantly increases protections for New Jersey’s workforce. These statutory changes will go into effect on July 19, 2020.

4/6/2020