Expansion of the NJ WARN Act
At the beginning of 2020, Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey signed Senate Bill 3170. This senate bill significantly modified and amended the NJ WARN Act. Now, with the expansion of the NJ WARN Act, New Jersey is the first state in the nation to require severance pay for mass layoffs. For employers, this means it is now much more expensive to conduct a large-scale company reduction or facility closures. Fortunately for New Jersey employees, this act provides a substantial safety net in the face of mass company layoffs. Below, we will dive into a few of the major amendments made to the NJ WARN Act. Furthermore, we will discuss what the act means for employees and when to seek legal assistance if your rights under the NJ WARN Act have been violated.
The rules and regulations included in the NJ WARN Act apply more to employers. Although, it is important as an employee to also have an understanding of the WARN Act and your rights as an employee under the act. There are two requirements every New Jersey employee should remember about the WARN Act: the notice period and the right to severance pay.
Expanded Notice Period
The NJ WARN Act originally stated that employers were required to give employees 60 days advance notice of a mass layoff. The amendments increase this required notice period from 60 days to 90 days. Meaning, an employer must give 90 days of advanced notice to employees regarding a mass layoff.
As mentioned above, New Jersey is the first state in the nation to require employers to pay severance to employees who experience job loss by a mass layoff, transfer of operations, or termination of operations. Previously, employers were only required to pay severance if they failed to give employees the proper advance notice. Now, even if employees are given adequate notice, they are entitled to one week of severance pay for every full year they were employed by the company. Moreover, if employers fail to give their employees the full 90 days advance notice, they must provide an additional 4 weeks of severance pay. Meaning, if your employer did not give you 90 days advance notice of a mass layoff, you are entitled to 4 weeks of severance plus one week of severance for every year you worked with the company.
What it Means for Employees
Essentially, the WARN Act provides employees with a more reliable safety net if they ever face a mass layoff. The guaranteed severance and longer notice period mean employees will have more time to search for a new job and get their finances in order before being let go. Extra time and financial security to plan for the future may help to alleviate some of the stress associated with being laid off. Also, the WARN Act makes it harder for employers to waive employee’s rights to severance pay. Under the amendments to the WARN Act, employees must have state or court approval to waive their rights to severance. The addition of this rule makes it harder for employers to require employees to waive their rights to severance as a condition of employment.
Lastly, it is important to note that all layoffs due to Covid-19 are not included under the WARN Act. There is an amendment to the WARN Act that states a “mass layoff” shall not include a mass layoff made necessary because of a national emergency, fire, flood, natural disaster, an act of war, civil disorder, or industrial sabotage. This amendment works to protect employers from further financial strain in difficult times.
Need a Lawyer?
As a New Jersey employee, has your company blindsided you with a mass layoff? Were you given the full 90 day advance notice? Maybe most importantly, did your company fail to pay you adequate severance after a mass layoff? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be time to contact an attorney. David Kaplan, attorney at law, provides his clients with a free initial consultation so you can discuss the details of your case with a professional and decide what the next best step is for your specific situation. With over 30 years of experience, David Kaplan is dedicated and passionate about helping those who have had their rights infringed upon. Handling each case personally, David promises to fight hard for the justice you deserve. For more information about David Kaplan’s work, or to book an appointment, visit his website.