Under a federal law called the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, businesses with 100 or more employees must provide affected workers with 60 days’ notice before a big layoff. It’s a bit more nuanced than that. But, for this blog post, the details aren’t so important.
What does matter today is that New Jersey has its own mini-WARN Act called the Millville Dallas Airmotive Plan Job Loss Notification Act. And it looks like a long-overdue employee-friendly update is about to happen . . . much sooner than many employers thought.
Right now, at least, NJ Jersey’s version is similar enough to the WARN Act. The extra hoops employers must jump through to provide notice of layoffs aren’t that big of a deal.
But in 2018, New Jersey put the wheels in motion to change all that.
That’s when the NJ Senate introduced a bill to increase prenotification time from 60 to 90 days and require severance pay in certain plant closings, transfers, and mass layoffs, ranging from one week of pay for each full year of employment to an additional four weeks of pay when the employer did not meet specific notice requirements.
A year later, the Senate passed the bill, and in early 2020, the NJ Assembly did too. On January 21, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy signed it.
The amendments would have taken effect in July 2020.
But then the pandemic hit, and Governor Murphy declared a State of Emergency. It seemed unfair to burden employers further. So, New Jersey decided to delay the effective date of the amendment until 90 days after Governor Murphy terminated his stay-at-home executive order.
But here we are in December 2022, and the Governor hasn’t ended it yet. So, the Senate and Assembly have decided to take matters into their own hands.
In October, the Assembly and Senate introduced bills to amend the effective date of the changes to NJ’s mini-WARN amendments. The new legislation untethers the NJ’s mini-WARN amendments from the stay-at-home executive order. Instead, if Governor Murphy signs the new legislation, which passed both Houses 32-2 on December 19, NJ’s mini-WARN amendments will take effect 90 days after the ink dries.
Just don’t count on it today (December 23), as State offices are closed due to inclement weather.
But bigger employers contemplating significant layoffs or facility closures should track the progress of this mini-NJ WARN amendment.