People who have been in the workplace for a number of years have likely been through a company-wide layoff of some kind. Mass layoffs are often necessary when companies downsize, go through a merger, acquisition or bankruptcy, move their headquarters or other sites and, of course, if they go out of business.
Mass layoffs not only can drastically affect the employees who lose their jobs and their families. They can have a highly detrimental effect on the economy of an entire city. New Jersey’s cities have not been spared. For example, Toys R Us, headquartered in Wayne, laid off approximately 2,000 employees in 2017 during its bankruptcy.
The law was strengthened this year
Those layoffs led to calls to expand the protections provided by the New Jersey WARN Act. WARN stands for “Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification.” The law applies when a business that has been in New Jersey for at least three years with at least 100 full-time employees lays off 50 or more employees in one or more locations throughout the state.
The changes in the law, which took effect this spring, extend the notice that must be given to employees of the layoff from 60 to 90 days. They also extend the requirement that full-time employees receive a severance package worth a week of pay for each year they’ve been with their employer to part-time employees.
Among the consequences for businesses that don’t comply with the law are that they pay employees for an additional four weeks. Employers are obligated to comply with the law even if they file for bankruptcy.
If you’re an employee who’s been notified of a pending layoff or has already been laid off, it’s crucial to understand your rights under New Jersey’s WARN Act. If your employer hasn’t followed the law, it can be helpful to seek legal guidance to protect those rights.