20 CFR § 639.1 - Purpose and scope.

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§ 639.1 Purpose and scope.

(a) Purpose of WARN. The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN or the Act) provides protection to workers, their families and communities by requiring employers to provide notification 60 calendar days in advance of plant closings and mass layoffs. Advance notice provides workers and their families some transition time to adjust to the prospective loss of employment, to seek and obtain alternative jobs and, if necessary, to enter skill training or retraining that will allow these workers to successfully compete in the job market. WARN also provides for notice to State dislocated worker units so that dislocated worker assistance can be promptly provided.

(b) Scope of these regulations. These regulations establish basic definitions and rules for giving notice, implementing the provisions of WARN. The Department's objective is to establish clear principles and broad guidelines which can be applied in specific circumstances. However, the Department recognizes that Federal rulemaking cannot address the multitude of industry and company-specific situations in which advance notice will be given.

(c) Notice encouraged where not required. Section 7 of the Act states:

It is the sense of Congress that an employer who is not required to comply with the notice requirements of section 3 should, to the extent possible, provide notice to its employees about a proposal to close a plant or permanently reduce its workforce.

(d) WARN enforcement. Enforcement of WARN will be through the courts, as provided in section 5 of the statute. Employees, their representatives and units of local government may initiate civil actions against employers believed to be in violation of § 3 of the Act. The Department of Labor has no legal standing in any enforcement action and, therefore, will not be in a position to issue advisory opinions of specific cases. The Department will provide assistance in understanding these regulations and may revise them from time to time as may be necessary.

(e) Notice in ambiguous situations. It is civically desirable and it would appear to be good business practice for an employer to provide advance notice to its workers or unions, local government and the State when terminating a significant number of employees. In practical terms, there are some questions and ambiguities of interpretation inherent in the application of WARN to business practices in the market economy that cannot be addressed in these regulations. It is therefore prudent for employers to weigh the desirability of advance notice against the possibility of expensive and time-consuming litigation to resolve disputes where notice has not been given. The Department encourages employers to give notice in all circumstances.

(f) Coordination with job placement and retraining programs. The Department, through these regulations and through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program (TAA) and Economic Dislocation and Worker Adjustment Assistance Act (EDWAA) regulations, encourages maximum coordination of the actions and activities of these programs to assure that the negative impact of dislocation on workers is lessened to the extent possible. By providing for notice to the State dislocated worker unit, WARN notice begins the process of assisting workers who will be dislocated.

(g) WARN not to supersede other laws and contracts. The provisions of WARN do not supersede any laws or collective bargaining agreements that provide for additional notice or additional rights and remedies. If such law or agreement provides for a longer notice period, WARN notice shall run concurrently with that additional notice period. Collective bargaining agreements may be used to clarify or amplify the terms and conditions of WARN, but may not reduce WARN rights.