WARN Act: Every Employee Needs to Know

As per a recent survey conducted in April 2023, among a representative sample of 2,200 U.S. adults, 31% expressed grave concern over widespread job losses while 22% feared losing their own job. Being laid off is a traumatic experience, but it doesn’t have to crush you. Mass layoffs are often beyond our control, but what we can control is the impact it has on our lives. The good news is that with the right mindset and preparation, you can make yourself more resilient to a potential layoff. In this article, we will introduce the WARN Act,  a federal law that requires specific employers to give notification benefits to their workers when certain workplace changes occur that could lead to mass layoffs or loss of jobs.  Remember, while a layoff may be challenging, it doesn’t have to be the end of the road for your career. Stay wise in the face of adversity.

1. What is the WARN Act?

The WARN Act is a federal law that requires specific employers to give notification benefits to their workers when certain workplace changes occur that could lead to mass layoffs or loss of jobs. The most common situation when the WARN act comes into the picture is when a company plans to close a factory or reduce work hours for a large number of employees. The objective of the WARN act is to provide employees with enough time to prepare for job loss or explore other employment opportunities.

2. Who is protected under the WARN Act?

The full-time or part-time employees who have worked for an organization for at least six months are covered under the WARN Act. Employees who are represented by a labor union and are employed under a collective bargaining agreement are also covered. However, employees of the Federal government and State governments are excluded from the WARN Act.

3. Who should file the WARN Act?

According to the WARN Act, employers with more than 100 full-time employees must file a WARN notice if they plan to lay off at least 50 employees within a 30-day period. This includes temporary, seasonal, and part-time employees who have worked more than 20 hours per week. The WARN notice must be given at least 60 days before the layoffs or plant closings occur. Employers who fail to file the WARN notice can face penalties and legal action.


Employers who are not covered by the WARN Act include those with fewer than 100 full-time employees, those who have been in business for less than one year, and those who are closing a temporary operation of less than six months. In addition, certain layoffs or plant closings may not require a WARN notice, such as those resulting from natural disasters, unforeseeable business circumstances, or military actions.

4. How much notice should the employer give to the employees under the WARN Act?

Employers who are covered under the WARN Act must provide their workers with advance written notice of any foreseeable layoffs or job loss. The minimum notice time is 60 days, but employers may give an earlier notice to provide adequate time to the employees for the transition. This written notification should specify the reason behind the job loss and the number of employees that will be affected.

5. What happens if an employer fails to comply with the WARN Act?

Non-compliance of the WARN Act may lead to significant penalties. In case your employer fails to provide you the notification, you can file a complaint against them with the Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division. The employer is then required to pay the fines accordingly. In addition, the affected employees may file a lawsuit against their employer for violating their rights under the WARN Act.

To know if your employer filed a WARN notice, follow these simple instructions.

Step 1: Determine the WARN Act requirements in your state


The WARN Act is a federal law, but each state has its own set of regulations and notifications. A great way to start is to search for WARN Act + “State” (abbreviation) on Google. For example, if you’re in California, search for WARN Act CA. By doing so, you’ll arrive at a government website where the WARN Act requirements and regulations for your state are outlined.


Step 2: Check your state’s Department of Labor and Industry website


Most states have a Department of Labor and Industry website where they publish a list of employers that have filed a WARN notice. Simply visit the website, and look for any news or notifications regarding the WARN Act. Some states may provide an updated database or Excel sheet that contains the names of the companies that filed a WARN notice, the date, and the number of employees affected by the plant closing or mass layoff.


Step 3: Consult with an attorney


If you believe that your employer violated the WARN Act by not providing adequate notice or neglecting to provide you with the severance pay to which you were entitled, it’s best to seek the advice of an attorney who specializes in employment law. An experienced attorney can advise you on your legal rights and help you understand what options are available to you.


It’s in your best interest to tune in regularly, as we strive to keep you informed with weekly updates on the WARN Act for all states. Stay vigilant, y’all.