California’s Own WARN Act Provides More Worker Protections Than its Federal Counterpart

Category: Employment Law
Author Name: TrainingABC
Posted: 11-17-2022 05:06 AM
Views: 1014
Synopsis: Learn how California's WARN act provides different protections than the federal WARN law.

It’s not uncommon for states to have established their own versions of the Federal WARN Act. California is one of many states to develop a similar law, though, like many California state laws, it provides more broad worker protection than the federal WARN Act does. If an employee feels that their employer in California violated the State’s WARN Act, they will likely seek damages under the state law instead of the federal law. For this reason, California employers need to be knowledgeable about the requirements of their state’s WARN Act.


How is the CA WARN Act Different?


Though both the federal WARN Act and the WARN Act within California seek to protect workers from large layoffs and plant closures without sufficient notice of at least 60 days, California’s law applies in more situations and offers a few more protections for workers within the state.


  1. Firstly, the CA WARN Act applies to any business that has employed at least 75 employees at any point within the last year. The federal law only applies to employers with at least 100 employees.
  2. In California, mass layoffs are considered any layoffs that involve at least 50 employees at one site, regardless of how much of that site’s workforce those employees account for. Federally, the layoff is only a “mass layoff” if the 50 or more impacted employees are at least 33% of the full-time workforce at one site.
  3. In terms of plant closures, which is another major category under both WARN Acts, the federal law says that closures must impact a minimum of 50 full-time employees. In California, any plant closure, regardless of the number of staff, is considered under the WARN Act.
  4. The CA WARN Act adds one more category to the law’s protections: mass relocation. If employees are offered a role that requires them to relocate more than 100 miles away, they are protected under the state’s WARN Act.
  5. Federally, employers have protection if the closures or layoffs were due to “unforeseen business circumstances.” This loophole was often used during Covid-19-related layoffs at the federal level. At the state level, California does not provide employers with protection for unforeseen circumstances.


Notification Requirements


In California, sending notice of mass layoffs, plant closures, or required relocation can be done via email or direct notification that is designed to track a receipt of the notice, such as first-class mail. Each notice to the state and local government officials, which is required under the law, must include the name and address of the impacted employment site, contact information for the company representative, a statement about the length of impact, the first date of separation, impacted job titles and the number of employees under each title, the name of any union involved, and the name and address of the chief elected officer of those unions.


Employer Requirements if Violated


If an employer is found in violation of California’s WARN Act, it will be liable to pay a $500 penalty for each day of violation, as well as back pay for the window of notice that should have been given, up to 60 days. Employers will also be required to pay benefits during that notice window and any impact that those missing benefits created, such as medical expenses that would have been covered under the employee’s health plan. 

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