20 CFR § 639.5 - When must notice be given?

§ 639.5 When must notice be given?

(a) General rule.

(1) With certain exceptions discussed in paragraphs (b), (c) and (d) of this section and in § 639.9 of this part, notice must be given at least 60 calendar days prior to any planned plant closing or mass layoff, as defined in these regulations. When all employees are not terminated on the same date, the date of the first individual termination within the statutory 30-day or 90-day period triggers the 60-day notice requirement. A worker's last day of employment is considered the date of that worker's layoff. The first and each subsequent group of terminees are entitled to a full 60 days' notice. In order for an employer to decide whether issuing notice is required, the employer should -

(i) Look ahead 30 days and behind 30 days to determine whether employment actions both taken and planned will, in the aggregate for any 30-day period, reach the minimum numbers for a plant closing or a mass layoff and thus trigger the notice requirement; and

(ii) Look ahead 90 days and behind 90 days to determine whether employment actions both taken and planned each of which separately is not of sufficient size to trigger WARN coverage will, in the aggregate for any 90-day period, reach the minimum numbers for a plant closing or a mass layoff and thus trigger the notice requirement. An employer is not, however, required under section 3(d) to give notice if the employer demonstrates that the separate employment losses are the result of separate and distinct actions and causes, and are not an attempt to evade the requirements of WARN.

(2) The point in time at which the number of employees is to be measured for the purpose of determining coverage is the date the first notice is required to be given. If this “snapshot” of the number of employees employed on that date is clearly unrepresentative of the ordinary or average employment level, then a more representative number can be used to determine coverage. Examples of unrepresentative employment levels include cases when the level is near the peak or trough of an employment cycle or when large upward or downward shifts in the number of employees occur around the time notice is to be given. A more representative number may be an average number of employees over a recent period of time or the number of employees on an alternative date which is more representative of normal employment levels. Alternative methods cannot be used to evade the purpose of WARN, and should only be used in unusual circumstances.

(b) Transfers.

(1) Notice is not required in certain cases involving transfers, as described under the definition of “employment loss” at § 639.3(f) of this part.

(2) An offer of reassignment to a different site of employment should not be deemed to be a “transfer” if the new job constitutes a constructive discharge.

(3) The meaning of the term “reasonable commuting distance” will vary with local and industry conditions. In determining what is a “reasonable commuting distance”, consideration should be given to the following factors: geographic accessibility of the place of work, the quality of the roads, customarily available transportation, and the usual travel time.

(4) In cases where the transfer is beyond reasonable commuting distance, the employer may become liable for failure to give notice if an offer to transfer is not accepted within 30 days of the offer or of the closing or layoff (whichever is later). Depending upon when the offer of transfer was made by the employer, the normal 60-day notice period may have expired and the plant closing or mass layoff may have occurred. An employer is, therefore, well advised to provide 60-day advance notice as part of the transfer offer.

(c) Temporary employment.

(1) No notice is required if the closing is of a temporary facility, or if the closing or layoff is the result of the completion of a particular project or undertaking, and the affected employees were hired with the understanding that their employment was limited to the duration of the facility or the project or undertaking.

(2) Employees must clearly understand at the time of hire that their employment is temporary. When such understandings exist will be determined by reference to employment contracts, collective bargaining agreements, or employment practices of an industry or a locality, but the burden of proof will lie with the employer to show that the temporary nature of the project or facility was clearly communicated should questions arise regarding the temporary employment understandings.

(3) Employers in agriculture and construction frequently hire workers for harvesting, processing, or for work on a particular building or project. Such work may be seasonal but recurring. Such work falls under this exemption if the workers understood at the time they were hired that their work was temporary. In uncertain situations, it may be prudent for employers to clarify temporary work understandings in writing when workers are hired. The same employers may also have permanent employees who work on a variety of jobs and tasks continuously through most of the calendar year. Such employees are not included under this exemption. Giving written notice that a project is temporary will not convert permanent employment into temporary work, making jobs exempt from WARN.

(4) Certain jobs may be related to a specific contract or order. Whether such jobs are temporary depends on whether the contract or order is part of a long-term relationship. For example, an aircraft manufacturer hires workers to produce a standard airplane for the U.S. fleet under a contract with the U.S. Air Force with the expectation that its contract will continue to be renewed during the foreseeable future. The employees of this manufacturer would not be considered temporary.

(d) Strikes or lockouts. The statute provides an exemption for strikes and lockouts which are not intended to evade the requirements of the Act. A lockout occurs when, for tactical or defensive reasons during the course of collective bargaining or during a labor dispute, an employer lawfully refuses to utilize some or all of its employees for the performance of available work. A lockout not related to collective bargaining which is intended as a subterfuge to evade the Act does not qualify for this exemption. A plant closing or mass layoff at a site of employment where a strike or lockout is taking place, which occurs for reasons unrelated to a strike or lockout, is not covered by this exemption. An employer need not give notice when permanently replacing a person who is deemed to be an economic striker under the National Labor Relations Act. Non-striking employees at the same single site of employment who experience a covered employment loss as a result of a strike are entitled to notice; however, situations in which a strike or lockout affects non-striking employees at the same plant may constitute an unforeseeable business circumstance, as discussed in § 639.9, and reduced notice may apply. Similarly, the “faltering company” exception, also discussed in § 639.9 may apply in strike situations. Where a union which is on strike represents more than one bargaining unit at the single site, non-strikers includes the non-striking bargaining unit(s). Notice also is due to those workers who are not a part of the bargaining unit(s) which is involved in the labor negotiations that led to the lockout. Employees at other plants which have not been struck, but at which covered plant closings or mass layoffs occur as a direct or indirect result of a strike or lockout are not covered by the strike/lockout exemption. The unforeseeable business circumstances exception to 60 days' notice also may apply to these closings or layoffs at other plants.