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New York Expands WARN Act Notice Requirements

Effective immediately, New York employers must provide advance written notice to additional government entities of a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act)-triggering event, such as a mass layoff, plant closing or relocation due to an amendment to New York’s mini-WARN law which was signed by Governor Cuomo on November 11. The amendment was designed to ensure that employers also notify nearby communities that may rely on tax revenue from the business and may face health and safety maintenance issues in the case of a property being abandoned.

Under New York law previously, an employer could not order a mass layoff, relocation or employment loss without giving at least 90 days’ written notice to the following parties:

  • Affected employees;
  • Any unions representing affected employees; and
  • Local Workforce Investment Boards.

The amendment expands the list of required recipients to also include:

  • The chief elected official of the unit or units of local government and the school districts in which the mass layoff, relocation or employment loss will occur; and
  • Each locality that provides police, firefighting, emergency medical or ambulance services to the site subject to the WARN-triggering event.

The New York WARN Act applies to private employers with 50 or more employees (excluding part-time employees) or 50 or more employees (including part-time employees) who work a combined total of at least 2,000 hours per week. In contrast, the federal WARN Act requires employers with 100 or more full-time employees to provide 60 days’ notice of a mass layoff or plant closing.

While the amendment is effective immediately, it is not clear if these additional notices are required only for events that occurred after the law became effective. It is expected that the revised regulations might clarify this issue. The amendment also does not state what content must be included in these new notices.

Next Steps for Employers

Covered New York employers that are considering a mass layoff, plant closing, or relocation will need to comply with the added notice requirements. Until revised regulations are issued it is recommended that employers provide the content required under federal WARN for notices to local governmental entities, as the New York statute states generally that New York WARN notices must include the information required in a federal WARN notice.

It is also recommended that employers receive guidance from their legal counsel on all the aspects of the law as compliance can with the state’s WARN law can be complicated.

HR Works, Inc., headquartered at 200 WillowBrook Office Park in Fairport (Rochester), New York, with an office in East Syracuse, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.