The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) act offers protection to workers, their families, and communities by requiring employers to provide notice 60 days in advance of covered plant closings and covered mass layoffs. This notice must be provided to either affected workers or their representatives (e.g., a labor union); to the State dislocated worker unit; and to the appropriate unit of local government.

On January 10, 2023, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed into law the bill severing the effective date of the NJ WARN Act amendments from EO 103.  The NJ WARN Act Amendments will go into effect on April 10, 2023 (ninety days after the Governor signed the Bill).***

The amendments to the New Jersey WARN Act include the following significant changes:

  • Employers with 100 or more employees (regardless of seniority or hours worked) located anywhere in the United States, (as long as the employer has operated in New Jersey for more than three years) would be covered. Currently the New Jersey WARN Act applies only to employers with 100 or more full-time employees.
  • Increase the amount of notice that must be given from 60 days (the length of time required under the federal WARN Act) to 90 days.
  • Notice for a mass layoff would be triggered by the termination of employment at an establishment during any 30-day period for 50 or more of the employees (regardless of whether such employees are full- or part-time) at or reporting tothe establishment.  Currently, notice is triggered for employment losses within any 30-day period for 500 or more full-time employees or for 50 or more of the full-time employees representing one third or more of the full-time employees at the establishment.
  • Expanded the definition of an “establishment” to a place of employment which has been operated by an employer for a period of longer than three years, but shall not include a temporary construction site.  “Establishment” may be a single location or a group of locations, including anyfacilities within the state, regardless of how far apart such locations are.  Under the current law, an “establishment” is a single location or a group of contiguous locations.
  • Employers would be required to pay all employees affected by the notice-triggering event severance pay equal to one week for each year of service even when the full 90 days’ notice is given. Additionally, in cases where the full 90 days’ notice is not provided, employers would have to provide four additional weeks of severance pay.  The current version of the Act requires employers to pay severance only to full-time employees affected by the notice-triggering event and only where 60 days’ notice is not given.
  • A waiver to severance pay will not be effective without approval of the waiver by the commissioner or a court of common jurisdiction.  This means that employers seeking a release of employees’ claims to severance pursuant to the New Jersey WARN Act will need to rethink their practice.