In 2007, the State of New Jersey enacted the “Millville Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Notification Act”, commonly known as the “NJ WARN Act”. The Act created greater protections for employees by requiring advance notice of closures and mass layoffs. Employers with a minimum of 100 employees nationwide are subject to the Act’s requirements. The changes are significant and all employers that are impacted by this Act should be aware of the consequences involved.
Although the State of New Jersey modified the Act back in 2020, the State delayed implementation of the changes until April 10, 2023 due to the COVID 19 pandemic. In general, these changes broaden both the population of employers subject to the Act and employers’ obligations and liabilities.
Originally, the NJ WARN Act defined a mass layoff as a discharge of a minimum of 500 employees at a given establishment or 50 employees representing at least 33% of the total workforce of a given establishment. Now, the Act applies to employers with at least 100 workers nationwide with one or more establishments in the State of New Jersey and the notification requirement is triggered if a layoff affects at least 50 employees. The 33% criteria is eliminated from the latest version of the Act.
The definition of “establishment” is important for determining whether an employer needs to give notice. In the first version of the law, the definition of “establishment” was limited to “a single location or a group of contiguous locations, including groups of facilities which form an office of industrial park or separate facilities just across the street from each other.” In other words, an “establishment” was generally a site or group of sites in close proximity to each other and an employer had to give notice if the number of layoffs in that location triggered the law.
Under the new language, this definition was broadened to include “any facilities” in the State of New Jersey that have been operated by the employer for a period longer than three (3) years. Now, rather than counting employees in a specific worksite, an employer reducing their workforce in locations across the State of New Jersey can trigger the notice requirement.
Additionally, while only full-time employees were initially included in the employee count to determine whether an employer is subject to the NJ WARN Act, both full-time and part-time employees now count toward the 100 worker threshold. Further, the Act’s protections, originally limited to only full-time employees, now extend over both full-time and part-time employees.
The original NJ WARN Act required applicable employers to provide employees with a 60-day notice in the event of an anticipated layoff, closure, or relocation. Now, employers must give at least a 90-day notice. Moreover, employers with 100 or more full-time employees must pay one (1) week of severance to every impacted employee. Employees are entitled to one (1) week of severance for every full year of employment. This severance requirement used to apply only where employers failed to give adequate notice. Now, a failure to give 90-days’ notice will trigger an additional four (4) weeks of severance for each employee who did not receive timely notice.
Employers are encouraged to visit https://www.nj.gov/labor/employer-services/warn/ for more information.