No employer in Florida relishes the idea of having to lay off a significant portion of their workforce. Still, sometimes mass layoffs are necessary to keep the business afloat during a financially difficult time. And, unfortunately, sometimes mass layoffs occur because a business is shutting its doors altogether.
If you must execute a mass layoff you must follow a federal law referred to as the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN). Under WARN workers being laid off must be given advance notice in writing of the layoff so they have time to prepare and look for a new job.
What is the WARN Act?
WARN applies to employers who employ at least 100 workers. WARN requirements are triggered when either 500 or more workers or 50 or more workers making up a minimum of 33% of the workforce are being involuntarily laid off.
Affected workers being involuntarily laid off must be given 60 days-notice of the job termination in writing. They also must be given information in writing about state and government agencies and programs that help the unemployed.
Exceptions to WARN requirements
There are ways employers can mitigate the potential harms they may incur due to the WARN Act. Hiring freezes, routine attrition and laying off people in installments can keep the WARN Act requirements from being triggered. Employers can also give workers the option to transfer to other business sites. There are also exceptions for unforeseeable circumstances, natural disasters, strikes and faltering companies.
What if I do not follow WARN requirements?
If you fail to follow WARN requirements, you could incur a fine of $500 per day every day you fail to notify the appropriate agencies. You could also face civil lawsuits brought against you by former employees that were denied their WARN rights.
WARN requirements may seem burdensome, but they are meant to help workers who will face a difficult time after being laid off. You can help soften the blow and remain on relatively decent terms with workers if you follow the WARN requirements, which can keep you in good standing in the business community.