Have You Been Warned About the Pending Amendments to the NJ WARN Act?
Sep 14, 2022 | Written by: Share|
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed into law Senate Bill 3170 in 2020, which greatly expanded employers’ advance layoff notice and severance pay obligations under the Millville Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Notification Act, otherwise known as the NJ WARN ACT or New Jersey’s mini-WARN Act. Although these amendments were originally scheduled to go into effect on July 17, 2020, the NJ WARN amendments were repeatedly postponed during the COVID-19 pandemic to avoid a harsh and unintended consequence for employers who needed to engage in layoffs during that time period. These amendments were slated to go into effect on October 2, 2021, 90 days following the termination of Executive Order 103, which had declared a Public Health Emergency. However, Executive Order No. 103 still remains in effect, so the amendments are still on hold as of this writing.
Pursuant to the pending amendments, any mass layoffs resulting from a natural disaster or national emergency (such as COVID-19) are exempt from NJ WARN’s coverage. However, because of these pending amendments, WARN will soon apply to employers with at least 100 employees, regardless of tenure or hours of work.
Further, the notice requirement will be triggered by a termination of 50 employees, regardless of tenure or hours of work. Terminations across the state will be aggregated to determine if the threshold is met, regardless of where within the state the terminations occur. Previously, the Act was triggered only if at least 33% of the workforce was affected at a single site of employment or 500 full-time employees were terminated in total. The Act also previously applied only to the termination of full-time employees. In addition, as amended, an out-of-state transfer or a transfer to a site in New Jersey beyond 50 miles will qualify as a “termination of employment” under the Act.
Under the pending amendments, an employer subject to this Act must provide 90 days’ advance notice (rather than the previous 60 days’ notice) to each employee whose employment is being terminated due to a mass layoff, transfer, or plant closing. Just as it was prior to the pending amendments, this will apply when there has been a termination of 50 or more employees within a 30-day period. Further, under the pending amendments, a 90-day window (as opposed to a 30-day window) will be used to aggregate whether 50 or more employees have been affected.
The most significant amendment to this Act will require employers to provide each terminated employee with severance pay equal to one week of pay for each full year of employment regardless of whether proper advance notice of the closure or layoff was provided. Failure to provide impacted employees with the full 90 days of notice will result in employers having to pay employees an additional four weeks of severance.
Finally, unlike the federal WARN ACT, New Jersey’s mini-WARN Act does not have a Faltering Business or Unforeseeable Business Circumstances exception.
If you are an employer impacted by the pending amendments to this Act and have any questions about it, or if you are uncertain as to whether your business falls under the purview of this Act, please contact one of our employment law attorneys.