Client Focused. People Driven.
Extraordinary Results.

The WARN Act: What is the employee job loss notification period?

On Behalf of | Feb 2, 2022 | Employer Law (Employer)

In Pennsylvania and across the United States, many people are understandably concerned about their job status. The economy has been challenging and many businesses are struggling. Since Pennsylvania functions under at-will employment, many workers can simply be terminated from their job without warning. They can also leave the job without giving notice. However, some jobs have protections for workers so they are prepared for termination or layoffs. This is where the WARN Act (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act) comes into play.

There are certain exceptions to the notification rule under the WARN Act

Under this law, workers must receive 60 days’ notice that a covered plant will close and mass layoffs are on the way. Still, there are exceptions that should be understood. The first exception is if the company is faltering and is trying to formulate strategies to get into a better financial situation and remain open. For example, if the owners are seeking funding, the financial problems that might lead to a plant closing could damage the effort to secure capital. With that, keeping the issues quiet and not informing the employees could be legal.

The second is if there are unforeseeable business circumstances. When there was no objective way to predict that the business might suddenly close and it does, then there is no requirement that employees receive the 60 days’ notification before termination or layoffs. Finally, a natural disaster eliminates the requirement. As recent events have shown with tornados and storms, the damage can be unpredictable and sudden. If that happens, then the WARN Act does not apply. The employer is required to prove that the exceptions were valid. Even if there is a notification but it falls short of 60 days, the employer must show that it was reasonable based on the exceptions.

Employers will need a strong defense for WARN Act violation claims

If there was an allegation of a violation of the WARN Act, it is often viewed from the perspective of the employees. But employers have rights based on employment law. Many plants have been facing upheaval and financial turmoil in recent years. That has caused concern as to whether they can be saved or will need to close. Workers might rely on the WARN Act to protect them. Still, employers could be confronted with the need to close or to adjust their business strategies to try and make a business profitable. When there are claims that the WARN Act was not followed, it is imperative to know the rules and be shielded from allegations of wrongdoing. Experienced guidance is imperative.