Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN)

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The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) was a bill passed in 1988 that required certain employers to notify employees and officials when laying off large numbers of employees. WARN first addressed layoffs resulting from plant closures by employers with 100 or more employees. If the employer plans on laying off more than 49 employees resulting from a plant closure, the employer must give the employees 60 days notice and notify government officials and unions. WARN only covers employees working at least 20 hours a week and who have worked at least six months within the last year. 

WARN also applies to mass layoffs from other large employers. If an employer plans on laying off 500 or more employees, the WARN requirements apply. If an employer plans on laying off 50-499 employees and the amount makes up 33% of their employees, the employer also must make WARN notifications.

If an employer does not abide by WARN requirements, they may be required to give back pay to employees for every day the warning was owed, and the employer may also face daily penalties by government agencies that were not warned. 

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[Last updated in August of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]