Carefully read the WARN Notice Procedure information and instructions below.
The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act offers protection to workers, their families, and their communities by requiring employers to provide notice 60 days in advance of covered plant closings and covered mass layoffs. This notice must be provided to either affected workers or their representatives (e.g. a labor union); to the state rapid response dislocated worker unit; and to the chief elected official of the local government in which the employment site is located.
In general, employers are covered by the WARN Act if they have 100 or more employees, not counting employees who have worked less than six months in the last 12 months and not counting employees who work an average of less than 20 hours per week. Private, for-profit employers and private, nonprofit employers are covered, as are public and quasi-public entities which operate in a commercial context and are separately organized from the regular government. Regular federal, state, and local government entities, which provide public services, are not covered.
Employees entitled to notice under the WARN Act include hourly and salaried workers, as well as managerial and supervisory employees. Business partners are not entitled to notice.
What Triggers Notice
Plant Closings: A covered employer must give notice if an employment site (or one or more facilities or operating units within an employment site) will be shut down, and the shutdown will result in an employment loss (as defined later) for 50 or more employees during any 30-day period. This does not count employees who have worked less than six months in the last 12 months or employees who work an average of less than 20 hours per week for that employer. These latter groups, however, are entitled to notice (discussed later).
Mass Layoffs: A covered employer must give notice if there is to be a mass layoff which does not result from a plant closing, but which will result in an employment loss at the employment site during any 30-day period for 500 or more employees, or for 50-499 employees if they make up at least 33% of the employer's active workforce. Again, this does not count employees who have worked less than six months in the last 12 months or employees who work an average of less than 20 hours per week for that employer. These latter groups, however, are entitled to notice.
An employer also must give notice if the number of employment losses which occur during a 30-day period fails to meet the threshold requirements of a plant closing or mass layoff, but the number of employment losses for two or more groups of workers, each of which is less than the minimum number needed to trigger notice, reaches the threshold level, during any 90-day period, of either a plant closing or mass layoff. Job losses within any 90-day period will count together toward WARN threshold levels, unless the employer demonstrates that the employment losses during the 90-day period are the result of separate and distinct actions and causes.
An employer who violates the WARN Act provisions by ordering a plant closing or mass layoff without providing appropriate notice is liable to each aggrieved employee for an amount including back pay and benefits for the period of violation, up to 60 days. The employer's liability may be reduced by such items as wages paid by the employer to the employee during the period of the violation and voluntary and unconditional payments made by the employer to the employees.
An employer who fails to provide notice as required to a unit of local government is subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $500 for each day of violation. This penalty may be avoided if the employer satisfies the liability to each aggrieved employee within three weeks after the closing or the employer orders the layoff.
Enforcement: The enforcement of WARN Act requirements occurs through the United States District Courts. Workers, their representatives and units of local government may bring individual or class action suits against employers believed to be in violation of the WARN Act. In any suit, the court, in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party a reasonable attorney's fee as part of the costs.
Who Must Receive Notice
The employer must give written notice to the chief elected officer of the exclusive representative(s) or bargaining agency(s) of affected employees and to unrepresented individual workers who may reasonably be expected to experience an employment loss. This includes employees who may lose their employment due to bumping, displacement by other workers, to the extent that the employer can identify those employees when notice is given. If an employer cannot identify employees who may lose their jobs through bumping procedures, the employer must provide notice to the incumbents in the jobs that are being eliminated. Employees who have worked less than six months in the last 12 months and employees who work an average of less than 20 hours a week are due notice, even though they are not counted when determining the trigger levels. The employer must also provide notice to the state rapid response dislocated worker unit and to the chief elected official of the unit of local government in which the employment site is located.
With three exceptions, notice must be timed to reach the required parties at least 60 days before a closing or layoff. When the individual employment separations for a closing or layoff occur on more than one day, the notices are due to the representative(s), state rapid response dislocated worker unit and local government at least 60 days before each separation. If the workers are not represented, each worker's notice is due at least 60 days before that worker's separation.
Form and Content of Notice
No particular form of notice is required. However, all notices must be in writing. Any reasonable method of delivery designed to ensure receipt 60 days before a closing or layoff is acceptable. Notice must be specific. Notice may be given conditionally upon the occurrence or non-occurrence of an event only when the event is definite and its occurrence or nonoccurrence will result in a covered employment action less than 60 days after the event.
Notifications of plant closings or mass layoffs from employers to the State Rapid Response Dislocated Worker Unit must contain:
- The name and address of the employment site where the plant closing or mass layoff will occur;
- The nature of the planned action, (i.e. whether it is a plant closing or mass layoff and whether or not the employment loss will be temporary or permanent);
- The reason for the plant closing or mass layoff;
- The expected date of the first separation, and the anticipated schedule for any further separations;
- The job titles of positions to be affected, and the number of affected employees in each job classification;
- A statement as to the existence of bumping rights, if any exist;
- The name of each union representing affected employees (if applicable), and the name and address of the chief elected officer of each union; and
- The name, address, and telephone number of a company official to contact for additional information.
When there are more than 50 affected workers, the state rapid response dislocated worker unit will immediately notify the local workforce development board, as well as the local rapid response coordinator, to coordinate services to employers and workers in an expeditious manner. However, the local workforce development board and local rapid response coordinator may respond to dislocation within small and medium sized companies under the 50 affected workers threshold for rapid response services where such dislocation constitutes a substantial proportion of the state and local economic base.
Send WARN Notices to:
Attn: Keantha Moore, Statewide Programs Administrator
107 E. Madison Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-4137
Via email: WARNnotices@deo.myflorida.com
Via fax: (850) 921-3859