Employers’ obligations to laid-off workers will change significantly on Monday when amendments to the New Jersey WARN Act take effect and increase the financial burden on many businesses that are restructuring or removing their business operations from the state.
The WARN Act applies to all employers with 100 or more employees nationwide who have employees in New Jersey. The major changes that take effect April 10 expand noticing requirements for planned mass workforce reductions and mandate severance pay equal to one full week’s pay for every year the worker was employed at the business.
Specifically, the notice requirement for any planned mass layoff, termination of operations or transfer of operations will be increased from 60 days to 90 days. The definition of a “mass layoff” has also been changed to mean a reduction in force impacting at least 50 employees, including part-time workers.
Previously, the mass layoff threshold was 500 or more full-time employees, or 50 or more full-time employees if those 50 employees represented 33% of the total workforce. Part-time workers did not previously count toward the threshold.
Severance is now mandatory for impacted workers, including part-time employees, even when the business has fulfilled its 90-day notice obligation. Previously, employers were only required to pay severance if they failed to comply with the advance noticing requirement. Effective Monday, they must pay severance regardless.
The Jackson Lewis law firm, an NJBIA member that specializes in labor and employment law, has more information about the changes to the WARN Act on their website here.