On January 21, 2020, Governor Murphy signed yet another costly obligation to employers into law, amending New Jersey’s equivalent to the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, called the Millville-Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Notification Act. New Jersey’s state WARN Act will now require employers administering a mass-layoff reduction-in-force to pay workers mandatory severance. A copy of the new law can be found here and goes into effect in 180 days or July 19, 2020.
Generally, the law requires that larger private employers in New Jersey provide advance notice of certain events, like a mass-layoff, transfer or closure. Here are some of the highlights:
- Lengthens the advance notice period from 60 days to 90 days;
- Requires severance payments in the amount of 1 week for each year of employment to all impacted employees instead of permitting employers to provide notice in lieu of severance;
- Expands the definition of “mass lay-off” to include any event involving the termination of employment of more than 50 employees (where previously the threshold was 500 employees or 50 or more employees comprising 33% of the workforce);
- Expanding the definition of “establishment” to include all of the employer’s locations within New Jersey meaning both employees at a worksite or reporting to a worksite;
- Includes all employees instead of permitting employers to exclude part-time employees working less than 20 hours per week towards New Jersey WARN-triggering event thresholds and towards applicability of New Jersey WARN in its entirety.
Employers who fail to comply with the severance provision of the amendment must pay a penalty of an additional four weeks of pay. This right to severance cannot be waived unless a Court or the Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner agrees. The amendments also require individual liability.