What Is the California WARN Act?

In times of economic downturn, businesses may face the difficult decision to downsize, restructure, or close their operations. While such actions may be necessary for the survival of a company, they can have a significant impact on employees and their livelihoods. In California, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act was enacted to provide essential protections to employees facing job loss due to plant closures, mass layoffs, or major relocations. In this blog post, we will explore the California WARN Act, its key provisions, and how it safeguards workers’ rights in the state.


What is the California WARN Act?

The California WARN Act is a state-level law that requires employers to provide advance notice to employees and certain government entities in the event of plant closures, mass layoffs, or relocations. The act aims to provide affected employees with sufficient time to seek alternative employment or obtain retraining opportunities, reducing the adverse impact of sudden job loss.


Key Provisions of the California WARN Act:

  • Notice Requirements: Employers covered by the California WARN Act must provide written notice to affected employees and specific government agencies at least 60 days prior to the planned plant closure, mass layoff, or relocation. The notice must include essential information such as the reason for the action, anticipated date, and expected number of affected employees.
  • Covered Employers: The California WARN Act applies to private employers with 75 or more full-time or part-time employees. It covers for-profit, non-profit, and public or quasi-public entities.
  • Covered Employees: The Act generally protects employees who have worked for the employer for at least six of the twelve months preceding the notice date and who average at least 20 hours of work per week. Temporary or seasonal employees, as well as managerial, confidential, and supervisory employees, are generally excluded.
  • Triggers for Notice: Employers are required to provide notice under the following circumstances: a. Plant Closures: If the employer intends to close a facility or discontinue an operating unit, resulting in the termination of 50 or more employees during a 30-day period. b. Mass Layoffs: If the employer intends to lay off 50 or more employees, constituting at least 33% of the workforce at a single site, during a 30-day period. c. Relocations: If the employer plans to relocate a significant portion of its operations to a different location, resulting in the termination of 50 or more employees during a 30-day period.


Failure to comply with the California WARN Act can expose employers to legal consequences. If an employer fails to provide adequate notice, affected employees may be entitled to back pay and benefits for the period of violation, as well as other statutory penalties. Additionally, the government agencies responsible for enforcing the WARN Act can take legal action against non-compliant employers.


The California WARN Act includes certain exceptions and exemptions, such as unforeseeable business circumstances, natural disasters, and temporary shutdowns due to unforeseen events. However, these exceptions have specific criteria and should not be used as a means to avoid complying with the Act’s requirements.


The California WARN Act plays a vital role in protecting employees from sudden job loss and providing them with an opportunity to plan for the future. By mandating advance notice for plant closures, mass layoffs, and relocations, the Act enables affected workers to seek alternative employment, obtain retraining, and make necessary financial adjustments. If you find yourself in a situation where your employer fails to comply with the California WARN Act, it is advisable to consult with an employment attorney who can guide you through the legal recourse available to protect

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