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How does the WARN Act affect employers planning mass layoffs?

In Louisiana, when there are workers laid off, the initial reaction is to look negatively on the employer. However, there are often justifiable reasons that a company will do extensive layoffs. In addition, they are legally allowed to make this decision based on employment law.

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) came into being nearly three decades ago. It is designed to protect workers, but it also gives guidelines for employers who are making mass layoffs and shields them from liability provided they comply with the law. When there are allegations of wrongdoing, understanding the WARN Act can help employers show they were adhering to employment regulations and protect from lawsuits.

WARN requires employers to give 60-days' notice, if there are workers covered under the law who will be laid off. The workers or their union must be informed that this is set to take place. Employers who have 100 or more employees are generally covered under WARN.

This does not count employees who were on the job for less than six months in the previous 12 months. Nor does it count employees who average less than 20 hours per week at work. Private profit and non-profit employers are covered. Public and quasi-public entities that work commercially will be covered. Hourly and salaried workers, managerial and supervisory employees are covered.

When there is a mass layoff planned, the employer is required to give notice if it is not due to a plant closing, but will lead to employment loss for 30 days for 500 or more workers. There must be notice if there are 50 to 499 employees if they comprise a minimum of 33 percent of the active workforce at the job.

The above-employees who had not worked at the location long enough or do not work the required number of hours per week remain excluded. There is no requirement to give notice if the mass layoff is because of a project or undertaking being completed. This applies if the workers were informed of this at the time of their hiring.

The WARN Act protects workers, but it also provides protection for employers because it has specific rules as to how mass layoffs are handled. For employers who are being accused of wrongdoing amid allegations of WARN Act violations, it is imperative to have a legal firm that is experienced in helping clients who are dealing with problems due to mass layoffs.

Source: LaWorks.net, "WARN Fact Sheet - The Worker Adjustment and Restraining Notification Act: A Guide to Advance Notice of Closings and Layoffs," accessed on Jan. 30, 2018

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