Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN)


Quick Summary

On January 1, 2003, California specific Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) requirements (Labor Code Sections 1400-1408) became law. These Labor Code provisions expand upon requirements in the federal WARN legislation that was effective February 4, 1989.

WARN provides protection to employees, their families, and communities by requiring employers to give affected employees and other state and local representatives notice 60 days in advance of a plant closing or mass layoff. Advance notice provides employees and their families some transition time to adjust to the prospective loss of employment, to seek and obtain alternative jobs and, if necessary, to enter skills training or retraining that will allow these employees to successfully compete in the job market.

Law Review

Covered Employees

California Law

Applicable to a "covered establishment" with 75 or more employees full or part-time. As under the federal WARN, employees must have been employed for at least 6 months of the 12 months preceding the date of required notice in order to be counted. [California Labor Code Section 1400 (a) and (h)]

Federal Law

Applicable only to employers with 100 or more full-time employees who must have been employed for at least 6 months of the 12 months preceding the date of required notice in order to be counted. (29 USC 2101 and 29 CFR 639.3)

Plant Layoff or Closing Requiring Notice

California Law

Plant closing, layoff or relocation of 50 or more employees within a 30-day period regardless of percentage of work force. Relocation is defined as a move to a different location more than 100 miles away. [California Labor Code Section 1400 (c)and (d)]

Federal Law

Plant closings involving 50 or more employees during a 30-day period. Layoffs within a 30-day period involving 50 to 499 full-time employees constituting at least 33% of the full-time workforce at a single site of employment. Layoffs of 500 of more are covered regardless of percentage of workforce. (29 USC, et seq., 2101 and 29 CFR 639.3)

Notice Requirements

California Law

An employer must give notice 60-days prior to a plant closing, layoff or relocation. In addition to the notifications required under federal WARN, notice must also be given to the Local Workforce Investment Board, and the chief elected official of each city and county government within which the termination, relocation or mass layoff occurs. (California Labor Code Section 1401)

Contacts for Local Workforce Investment Area (LWIA)

Federal Law

An Employer must provide written notice 60-days prior to a plant closing or mass layoff to employees or their representative, the State dislocated worker unit (the Employment Development Department, Workforce Investment Division in California), and the chief elected official of local government within which such closing or layoff is to occur. (29 USC, 2102; 29 CFR 639.5)

How a WARN Notice is Filed

Notify Employees

To notify employees, any reasonable method of delivery designed to ensure receipt of notice at least 60 days before a plant closing or mass layoff is acceptable (e.g., first class mail, personal delivery with optional signed receipt). In the case of notification directly to affected employees, insertion of notice into pay envelopes is another viable option; however, a ticketed or preprinted notice regularly included in each employee's paycheck or pay envelope does not meet the requirements.

Notify LWIA


Notify State

WARN Act Coordinator System Support Section Workforce Investment Division Employment Development Department P.O. Box 826880, MIC 69 Sacramento, CA 94280-0001

Form and Content of Notice per California Law

No particular form of notice is required; however, all notices submitted to the State and LWIA must be in writing and should include the following content:
  • The name and address of the employment site where the plant closing or mass layoff will occur
  • The name and telephone number of a company name official to contact for further information
  • A statement as to whether the planned action is expected to be permanent or temporary and, if the entire plant is to be closed, a statement to that effect
  • The expected date of the first separation, and the anticipated schedule for making separations
  • The job titles of positions to be affected, and the number of affected employees in each job classification
  • An indication as to whether or not bumping rights exist
  • The name of each union representing affected employees, and
  • The name and address of the chief elected officer of each union

What Happens After a WARN Notice is Filed

The Employment Development Department (EDD) has established Rapid Response Teams to assist employers and workers during a mass layoff or plant closing. These teams, facilitated through the One-Stop Career Center System, are a cooperative effort between the Local Workforce Investment Area and the EDD. This team disseminates information on the adult and dislocated worker services available under Title I of the Workforce Investment Act and through the EDD Job Service and Unemployment Insurance programs. If the dislocation is the result of foreign competition or foreign relocation, the dislocated worker may be eligible for assistance, income support, job search assistance/relocation, and/or training under the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA).

More Information is Available with a Premium Subscription

  • Text of federal WARN regulations
    Purpose and scope.
    What does WARN require?
    Who must give notice?
    When must notice be given?
    Who must receive notice?
    What must the notice contain?
    How is the notice served?
    When may notice be given less than 60 days in advance?
    When may notice be extended?
  • Comparisons between California and federal statutes for additional issues

  • Liability for violating WARN - what do employees get and much will violations cost employers

  • Exceptions and exemptions from federal and California notice requirements

  • Description of courts that legal actions can be filed in

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