January 25 2019

The WARN Act: Who Is Eligible and Your Employer's Responsibility


Layoffs are stressful, but when you get laid off with little to no notice for something that is no fault of your own, then it is particularly damaging.

Fortunately, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act was passed to help you and other workers prepare for a mass layoff. However, this protection is not available to everyone or for every plant closing or layoff. Here is more about the WARN act and how it may or may not apply to you or your employer.

Basics of the WARN Act

The basic premise of the WARN Act requires employers with at least 100 full-time employees to give workers a 60-day written notification of any mass layoff in a single site of employment. The act also covers the mass cutting of work hours over a certain length of time.

Private, for-profit and non-profit companies are covered by this act as well as public entities that act in a commercial manner. However, it does not include regular government service workers.

The WARN Act is designed to help employees prepare for the layoff and get retraining if necessary.

Employee Eligibility

Not all employees are eligible for this advance warning. If you are a new, temporary, or a part-time worker, than your employer does not have to notify you. The same is true if you are a temporary worker, or working on a temporary project, and you were informed and understood that the job wasn't permanent.

Independent contractors or consultants who are hired and paid by a third party are also not eligible.

Transfer offers within a reasonable commuting distance are not considered layoffs and a 60-day notice is not required.

Employer Requirements

Not all employers are required to give their employees any notice at all. If your company has few employees or is not laying off a significant enough percentage or number of the workforce, then no warning is required.

The warning must explain your rights, including bumping rights. Your employer cannot force you to waive your rights under this act. If you agree to severance pay or reassignment in lieu of a 60-day notice, then you could be considered to have voluntarily given up your rights.

Situations When the WARN Act Doesn't Apply

The WARN act primarily covers mass layoffs and plant closings that are foreseeable. Here are some situations where a 60-day notice may be shortened or not required:


  • Layoffs from unforeseeable business problems or natural disasters.
  • Difficulties with financial issues in which your employer can prove that steps were taken to avoid layoffs and keep the company afloat.
  • Closings due to labor disputes, such as lockouts and strikes.


For the first two situations, a shortening of the notice time is considered acceptable, but for the third reason, a notice is not needed at all.

WARN Act Enforcement

Though the WARN Act comes under the Department of Labor's jurisdiction, they have no power to enforce it.

Therefore, if you feel that your rights were violated, you will have to talk to an attorney. If you are successful, your employer may owe you back pay for those days in which you were not warned properly. Employers also get fined for each day they failed to give adequate warning and for each employee.

A sudden lack of work for reasons beyond your control can wreak havoc on your life. If you were a victim of a mass layout or plant closing, and you feel like you weren't given adequate warning, contact Wolfe, Jones, Wolfe, Hancock, Daniel & South, L.L.C. , for a consultation. We have experience working on WARN Act lawsuits. We can look at your situation and determine if you deserve compensation.

The WARN Act: Who Is Eligible and Your Employer's Responsibility