New Jersey Mini-Warn Act Amendments Effective April 10, 2023

On January 10, 2023, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed Assembly Bill No. 4768. Pursuant to the bill, the Legislature’s rather significant amendments to New Jersey’s WARN Act—formally titled the “Millville Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Notification Act”—will become effective on April 10, 2023. The amendments, while approved in January 2020, were set to take effect following Governor Murphy’s lifting of the state of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic, as declared in March 2020 with Executive Order 103. Although the state of emergency remains in effect as of this writing, with Assembly Bill No. 4768, the Legislature has untethered the WARN Act amendments from the state of emergency.

The most significant changes to the New Jersey WARN Act are found below:

    • Extended Notice. Employers with 100 or more employees will be required to provide 90 days’ notice before the first employee is terminated due to a termination of operations, a transfer of operations, or a mass layoff. That 90 days’ notice was increased from 60 days’ notice.
    • Expanded Definition of “Mass Layoff.” The new amendments to New Jersey’s WARN Act define a “mass layoff” as any reduction in force resulting in the termination of employment at an establishment of 50 or more employees who either work at or report to that establishment. Note the lack of any distinction between full- and part-time employees. The previous WARN Act defined a mass layoff as a reduction in force of (1) 500 or more full-time employees at an establishment or (2) 50 or more full-time employees representing 1/3 or more of the full-time employees at that establishment.
    • Full- and Part-Time Equivalents. The new amendments to the WARN Act remove the distinctions between full- and part-time employees. Not only were the definitions for “full-time employee” and “part-time employee” completely removed, both full- and part-time employees must be counted for both the 50- and 100-employee thresholds for the “mass layoff” definition and notice requirements, respectively.
    • Penalties for Failure to Provide Notice. In the event that an employer fails to provide the 90 day’ notice to an employee who is required to receive that notice, the employer must pay an additional four weeks of pay to that employee, on top of the one week of severance pay such an employee is entitled to receive for each full year of employment.
    • Updated “Establishment” Definition. An “establishment” is defined as a place of employment, operated by an employer for longer than three years, not including a temporary construction site. An “establishment” may be a single location or a group of locations, including any facilities located in New Jersey.

    Employers considering a reduction in force will have to remain mindful of these updated obligations. Brown & Connery attorneys stand available to assist employers of all sizes in reviewing employment decisions and how those decisions interact with ever-changing laws and regulations.

    By:  Michael J. Miles, Partner and James P. Clancy, Associate at Brown & Connery, LLP