On January 10, 2023, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, signed into law legislation that makes the 2020 amendments to New Jersey’s mini-WARN Act become effective on April 10, 2023. The amendments were originally scheduled to take effect in July 2020, but were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and New Jersey’s related state of emergency (which still remains in effect).
Federal WARN and state mini-WARN acts apply to certain workplace closures and reductions in force and generally require employers that are subject to the statutes to provide advanced notice of any mass layoffs or workplace closures. While the scope of WARN acts vary by state, they generally apply to businesses with 100 or more full-time employees.
New Jersey’s amendments to its mini-WARN Act, drastically increase employer obligations and impose significant liabilities for employers that fail to comply with the Act.
Scope of the Act
As of April 10, 2023, New Jersey’s mini-WARN ACT will apply to any employer with with 100 or more full and/or part-time employees anywhere within the United States. Previously, the statute applied, as does its federal counterpart, to employers with 100 or more full-time employees.
Additionally, the Act will be triggered by a reduction in force that impacts at least 50 employees who work or report to New Jersey (e.g. remote workers) within a 30-day period. Previously, remote workers who report to New Jersey were not included in the 50 employe calculation.
Notice and Severance Requirements
Employers must give affected employees 90-days’ (previously 60) advanced notice of the terminations. In addition, employers are required to pay each employee severance equal to one week of pay for each full year of employment. If an employer fails to give the required 90 days’ notice, then the employer must pay each affected employee four additional weeks of severance (in addition to the one week per year of service severance). Employees may not waive the notice or severance rights. Notably, the amendments expand the definition of employer to include not only owners of the business, but also, any individual who “makes the decision responsible for the employment action” resulting in the mass layoff, thus, drastically increasing the number of individuals who could be held liable for any New Jersey mini-WARN violations.
Employers with 100 or more employees that have operations in New Jersey should review their severance and termination policies to ensure compliance with the law. Moreover, any such businesses that are experiencing financial difficulties should seek the advice of knowledgable counsel well in advance of making any decisions to conduct mass layoffs or shutting down operations, particularly in light of the expansive personal liability imposed by the amendments.
If you have questions about New Jersey’s employment laws, or your business’s employment practices, please contact us at (201) 345-5412, or through our online scheduling system, to schedule a complimentary consultation.
Information contained in this blog is provided for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice or opinion. You should consult with an attorney regarding the specifics of your matter or legal issue.