Skip to Main Content
Compliance Assistance Resources

elaws - employment laws assistance for workers and small businesses

- WARN Advisor

How Much Notice Am I Required to Provide?

With certain exceptions, WARN requires you to provide at least 60 calendar days' advance written notice if a plant closing or a mass layoff occurs at a single site of employment during a 30- or 90-day period.

There are three conditions under which the notification period may be reduced to less than 60 days. However, in these situations, you must provide notice as soon as it is practicable. When you give notice, you must provide a statement of the reason for reducing the notice requirement in addition to other notice information requirements. The exceptions are:

  1. Faltering Company - When, before a plant closing or mass layoff, a company is actively seeking capital or business and reasonably in good faith believes that advance notice would prevent the company from obtaining such capital or business, and this new capital or business would allow the company to avoid or postpone a shutdown for a reasonable period.

  2. Unforeseeable Business Circumstances - When the closing or mass layoff is caused by business circumstances that were not reasonably foreseeable at the time that 60-day notice would have been required (in other words, by a business circumstance that is caused by some sudden, dramatic and unexpected action or conditions outside the employer's control). For example, a major customer canceling its order without prior notice would usually be an unforeseeable business circumstance.

  3. Natural Disaster - When a plant closing or mass layoff is the direct result of a natural disaster such as a flood, earthquake, drought, storm, tidal wave or similar effects of nature.

If these exceptions apply, an employer is still required to provide as much notice as practical under the circumstances. This could vary from weeks to almost no time in the case of a natural disaster that destroys a plant and forces it to close. The notice must give a brief statement of the basis for invoking the exception.

There are also two situations in which you are not required to give notice of a plant closing or mass layoff which would ordinarily be covered by WARN. They are:

  1. Temporary Project or Facility - If workers were hired for a specific project and the workers were informed that their employment was limited to that project. This is often the case in the construction and agricultural industries. Firms that hire workersfor temporary projects or facilities may also have permanent employees. If enough of these permanent workers are laid off to trigger the notice requirement, notice must be given to the permanent workers; the exception still applies to the workers who were hired only for the specific project. Also, some employers may use the same seasonal workers year after year. If they hire these seasonal workers for more than six months a year, the exception also may not apply.

  2. Strikes or Lockouts - If a plant closing or mass layoff occurs as a direct result of a strike or lockout and the plant closing or mass layoff is not intended to evade the purposes of WARN. This exception only applies to the particular plant at which the strike or lockout occurs; it does not apply to other locations in the same firm or to suppliers or customers who may be affected by the strike or lockout. (These other affected firms may, however, be entitled to give reduced notice under the unforeseeable business circumstances exception.)

These exceptions are addressed in detail in Section 639.5 and Section 639.9 of the WARN regulations and discussed in Section 639.5 and Section 639.9 of the Preamble to the 1989 Final Rule.