The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) is a piece of labor legislation in the United States that is designed to offer protection not only to workers but also to the workers' families and their communities. Under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, employers are required to give notice at least 60 days prior to layoffs and closings. Notice is to be given either to the employees or to their labor representatives, to the state's unit for dislocated workers as well as to the local chief elected official, usually the mayor. WARN was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on 4 August 1988, and its provisions went into effect on 4 February 1989.
An employer falls under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act if it has at least 100 employees. This count includes salaried, managerial and supervisory employees as well as staff members on hourly pay. Employees who work fewer than 20 hours per week or who worked for fewer than six of the previous 12 months do not count toward this total, though, nor do freelance contractors or business partners. Most organizations are affected: private, semi-private and public companies are affected, whether they are for profit or non-profit, but local, state and federal governmental bodies are not included.
Under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, notification must be given in the event of a plant closing. WARN defines a plant closing as a work site that has been shut down completely and where the closure causes employment loss for at least 50 workers over a period of 30 days. Voluntary and mandatory retirement or dismissal, layoffs lasting more than a period of six months and reduced hours of at least 50 percent during a six-month period all qualify as employment loss under this act.
Mass layoffs also require notification under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. A layoff that results in employment loss as defined above for at least 500 workers over period of 30 days is a mass layoff under WARN. Layoffs that affect at least 50 employees in a workplace where this group makes up one-third of the total workforce also are considered mass layoffs under this legislation.
WARN does make allowances for some exceptions. Temporary workplaces are excluded from this legislation, and workers completing a finite project are not considered laid off, provided that workers understood that the work was temporary. In the event of a lockout because of labor negotiations, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act does not require that an employer gives notice. Employers also are exempt from notice requirements in the event of an emergency or a natural disaster.