The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification
Act (WARN Act) provides protection to workers, their families,
and communities by requiring employers to provide advance notification
of plant closings and mass layoffs. Advance notice is designed to
provide 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.
The Act also provides for notice to state dislocated worker units
so that dislocated worker assistance can be promptly provided.
Not all plant closings and layoffs are subject to the
Act, and certain thresholds must be met before the Act applies. WARN
Act violations can be expensive, as damages and civil penalties can
be assessed against employers that violate the Act. There is also
a host of issues that employers must consider in connection with layoffs,
such as the possibility of discrimination suits, the notice requirements
for and the cost of healthcare continuation coverage, and whether
to provide outplacement services and/or severance pay. Employers may
also want to anticipate rehiring laid-off workers and taking advantage
of government training and retraining programs.