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A WARNing to New Jersey Employers: Amendments to the State’s Amended Mini-WARN Act A WARNing to New Jersey Employers: Amendments to the State’s Amended Mini-WARN Act

A WARNing to New Jersey Employers: Amendments to the State’s Amended Mini-WARN Act

After decades of relative calm in the landscape of laws regulating the workplace in the United States, the last few years have witnessed a frenzy of new legal restrictions on employers at the federal, state and local levels. Here’s the latest.

On January 10, 2023, New Jersey Governor, Phil Murphy, signed a law implementing significant amendments to New Jersey’s Millville Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Notification Act, also known as the state’s mini-WARN law (Amended NJ WARN Act). The changes went into effect, Monday, April 10, 2023. 

Most notably, the Amended NJ WARN Act now requires employers to provide a 90-day notice, as opposed to the 60-day notice period required by federal law, to employees when an establishment is subject to a transfer of operations or termination of operations that results in the termination of 50 or more full-time employees or the employer conducts a “mass layoff.” A “mass layoff” under the Amended NJ WARN Act now occurs whenever there is a reduction in force of 50 or more employees at or reporting to an establishment. Unlike the federal WARN Act, the mass layoff does not need to impact a third of the employees at the location.  The Amended NJ WARN Act also expands the general definition of “employer” under the Act to include those employers with 100 or more employees, regardless of hours of work or tenure, whereas the original state mini-WARN Act only applied to employers with 100 or more full-time employees.

Under this new state law, employees who receive insufficient notice or no notice at all are entitled to four (4) weeks of severance pay, in addition to the one (1) week of severance pay employees must receive already for each year of service with their employer under New Jersey state law if their employment ends due to a transfer or termination of operations or a mass layoff. The Amended NJ WARN Act further expands the definition of “employer” to include:
[A]ny individual, partnership, association, corporation, or any person or group of persons acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee,” including “any person who, directly or indirectly . . . makes the decision responsible for the employment action that gives rise to a mass layoff subject to notification.” 

On its face, this expanded definition of “employer” appears to mean that individual managers, human resource professionals, corporate officers, and even staffing agencies involved in the mass layoff or shutdown decision could now be potentially liable for the mandatory severance pay to employees if notice is not properly provided in the State of New Jersey. 

These changes represent a significant expansion of employers’ obligations to give notice and potential liability under the federal WARN Act and under previous New Jersey state law. We are awaiting additional guidance from New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development regarding precisely how these provisions will play out down the line.

If you have operations in the State of New Jersey and have any questions about the impact of this new law on you, please contact Masallay Komrabai-Kanu or another member of the Workplace Solutions Group.

This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader should consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader's specific circumstances.
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