A WARNing to Employers: Additional Notice Requirements Under the NY WARN Act

On November 11, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed into law an amendment to the New York Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act (“NY WARN”), which significantly expands notification requirements for covered employers facing mass layoffs, plant closings, relocations, or other triggering employment losses.

Prior to the amendment, covered employers (generally, private employers with more than 50 employees) facing a triggering employment loss were required to provide 90 days’ advance written notice to: affected employees and their representatives; the New York State Department of Labor; and local workforce investment boards.  The amendment, which took effect immediately, requires that employers also notify: (1) the chief elected official of the unit(s) of local governments and the school district(s) in which the covered employment loss will occur; and (2) each locality which provides police, firefighting, emergency medical or ambulance services, or other emergency services to the site of employment to the covered employment loss.  Depending on the site of the employment loss, these community notification requirements have the effect of requiring several new government notices, in addition to the multiple notices already required under both federal and NY WARN Acts.

This amendment is intended to address the “far-reaching effects of situations that trigger WARN Act compliance” and to lessen risks to local communities relating to major employment losses, including “health and safety dangers with respect to a large abandoned property” and “significant and immediate budgetary changes” resulting from loss of local revenue.[1]  By ensuring that affected communities and school districts are aware of major employment losses, the legislation aims to “enable these communities to react sooner and more effectively to manage situations … that have a significant impact on the well-being of their residents, essential service obligations, and revenue.”[2]

The regulations implementing NY WARN—which include rules governing the content and service of required notices—have not yet been updated to address the new notification requirements.   However, because the amended NY WARN requirements are already in effect, it is important that employers planning mass layoffs, plant closings, or relocations confer with counsel to ensure compliance with the new NY WARN notification requirements.  Employers who fail to file required NY WARN notices are liable for back pay and benefits and are subject to a civil penalty of $500 per day.

 

[1] See New York State Assembly, Memorandum in Support of Legislation for Bill No. A10674a, available at: https://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?default_fld=%0D%0A&leg_video=&bn=A10674&term=2019&Summary=Y&Actions=Y&Memo=Y&Text=Y (last visited 11/18/2020).

[2] See id.

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