NJ Warn Act Amendments Postponed Due To COVID-19 Health Crisis
Last updated April 15, 2020
On January 21, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy signed into law Senate Bill 3170, an amendment to New Jersey’s Millville Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Act, N.J.S.A. 34:21-1, et seq. (“NJ WARN” or the “Act”). This amendment to NJ WARN greatly expanded the coverage of the Act. The amendment expanded the definition of an employer, required 90-days advance written notice of an impending job loss for 50 or more people within a 30-day period, afforded benefits to part-time employees and required mandatory severance pay in the event of a plant closing or mass layoff, even if the employer gave proper advance notice of the impending job loss. The NJ WARN amendments were to become effective on July 19, 2020. On April 14, 2020, recognizing the current health crisis caused by the spread of COVID-19, the New Jersey Legislature enacted legislation, signed by Governor Murphy, postponing the effective date of the previous amendment until the 90th day following the termination of Governor Murphy’s Executive Order No. 103, the stay at home order.
In addition, Senate Bill 2353 explicitly carves out an exception from the definition of "mass layoff". In this new amendment to NJ WARN, the Legislature expressly excluded from the definition of “mass layoff” layoffs occasioned by fire, flood, natural disaster, national emergency, and acts of war, among other things. This is significant because previously the “national emergency” exception only applied to a “termination of operations.”
The Legislature made this change effective retroactive to March 9, 2020, so there was no question that COVID-19 layoffs that occurred on and after that date are excluded from the definition of “mass layoff.”
Employers which have conducted temporary layoffs or furloughs should keep in mind that the federal Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification Act, 29 U.S. Code § 2101, et seq., could be implicated under certain circumstances.
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