New Jersey WARN Act Amendments: Stricter Employer Obligations and Increased Employee Protections

Key Takeaways:

  • Notice to affected employees to be provided at least 90 days in advance
  • Mandatory severance for employees
  • WARN requirements triggered by mass layoffs impacting at least 50 employees
  • Part-time employees must be included in the threshold counts

After being placed on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing state of emergency declared in 2020, amendments to New Jersey’s mini-WARN Act will go into effect April 10, 2023. Previously, NJ WARN required that private employers with 100 or more full-time workers, including those out of state, or when 50 employees representing at least 33% of the establishment’s workforce would be impacted, must provide affected employees with 60 days’ advance notice in the event of a mass layoff, termination of operations or transfer of operations. Severance was levied as a penalty for the failure to provide the required notice prior to termination or layoff. The NJ WARN Act Amendments increase employee protections while imposing stricter employer obligations.

The most significant changes to NJ WARN include:

  • Increased Notice Period to Affected Employees: Employers must now provide at least 90 days’ notice to affected employees prior to the first employee’s discharge as part of a mass layoff, termination of operations or transfer of operations.
  • Mandatory Severance: Employers must provide discharged employees with “severance pay equal to one week of pay for each full year of employment.” Previously, severance was only used as a penalty for the failure to provide employees with the required notice.
  • Lower Threshold for Mass Layoffs: NJ WARN will be triggered by a mass layoff impacting at least 50 employees. The amendments remove the previously threshold of at least 500 employees at the establishment or 50 employees representing at least 33% of the total establishment workforce.
  • Part-Time Employee Coverage: Part-time employees must now be counted in the 100-employee threshold for covered employers and the 50-employee threshold for the termination of operations or a mass layoff that trigger the need for advanced warning. And part-time employees are now entitled to 90 days’ advance notice and severance pay.
  • Expanded Definition of “Establishment”: The amendments now define “establishment” as either a single location or group of locations, including any facilities located in New Jersey. This new definition requires employers to aggregate all of their locations in New Jersey when determining if the 50-employee threshold is met.

Employers planning reductions in force will have to consider these new requirements.

For any questions regarding the NJ WARN Act and its compliance, please contact Lisa M. Scidurlo.