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The Worker Adjustment and 
Retraining Notification Act (WARN)


Official IWD WARN Log
(PDF File Size 198 KB)
Last Updated September 11, 2014

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What is WARN?

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) was enacted on August 4, 1988 and became effective on February 4, 1989.

WARN offers protection to workers, their families, and communities by requiring employers to give 60 days advance notice of covered plant closings and covered mass layoffs. This notice must be given to either the affected workers or their representatives (e.g., a labor union) plus the State Dislocated Worker Unit and the appropriate unit of local government.

In general, employers are covered by WARN requirements if they have 100 or more employees, not counting employees who have worked less than 6 months in the last 12 months and not counting employees who work an average of less than 20 hours a week. Federal, State, and local government entities which provide public services are not covered by WARN. Employees entitled to notice under WARN include hourly and salaried workers as well as managerial and supervisory employees. Business partners are not entitled to WARN notices.

Enforcement of the WARN requirements is through the United States district courts. Workers' representatives of employees and units of local government may bring individual or class action suits. In any suit, the court, at its discretion, may allow the prevailing party a reasonable attorney's fee as part of the costs.

Plant Closing: 
A covered employer must give notice if an employment site will be shut down and the shutdown will result in an employment loss (as defined later) for 50 or more employees during any 30-day period. An employment site is defined as one or more facilities or operating units within an employment site. The 50 or more employees criterion does not count employees who have worked less than 6 months in the last 12 months or employees who work an average of less than 20 hours a week for the covered employer. These latter groups, however, are entitled to notice (discussed later).

Mass Layoff: 
A covered employer must give notice if there is to be a mass layoff (which does not result from a plant closing), which will result in an employment loss at the employment site during any 30-day period for: a) 500 or more employees, or b) 50-499 employees if they make up at least 33 percent of the employer's active workforce. Again, this does not count employees who have worked less than 6 months in the last 12 months or employees who work an average of less than 20 hours a week for that employer.

An employer also must give notice if the number of employment losses which occur during a 30-day period fails to meet the threshold requirements of a plant closing or mass layoff but the number of employment losses for two or more groups of workers -- each of which is less than the minimum number needed to trigger notice -- reaches the threshold level of either a plant closing or mass layoff during any 90-day period. Job losses within any 90-day period will count together toward the WARN threshold levels unless the employer demonstrates that the employment losses during the 90-day period are the result of separate and distinct actions and causes.

Sale of Business: 
In a situation involving the sale of part or all of a business, one should be guided by the following:

1. In each situation, there is always an employer responsible for giving notice.

2. If the sale by a covered employer results in a covered plant closing or mass layoff, the required parties (discussed later) must receive at least 60 days notice.

3. The seller is responsible for providing notice of any covered plant closing or mass layoff which occurs up to and including the date/time of the sale.

4. The buyer is responsible for providing notice of any covered plant closing or mass layoff which occurs after the date/time of the sale.

5. No notice is required if the sale does not result in a covered plant closing or mass layoff.

6. For purposes of WARN, on the day/time of the sale, employees (other than employees who have worked less than 6 months in the last 12 months or employees who work an average of less than 20 hours a week) of the seller become employees of the buyer immediately following the sale. This provision preserves the notice rights of the employees of a business that has been sold.

The State of Iowa has now enacted provisions and legislation regarding business closure/downsizing for Iowa businesses. Visit Iowa Layoff Notification Law for more information

For questions and issuances of 
WARN notifications, contact:

Ted A. Harms, State Rapid Response Coordinator
Iowa Workforce Development
3420 University Avenue
Waterloo, Iowa 50701
(515) 669-0359 office
(319) 235-1068 fax
Ted.Harms@iwd.iowa.gov

 

 

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