WARN Act Massachusetts: Compliance Guidelines for 2024

Updated on 05/23/2024


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  1. The WARN Act Massachusetts applies to organizations with over 100 full-time employees.
  2. Federal guidelines define a mass layoff in Massachusetts as a reduction in force affecting at least 50 employees or one-third of the workforce.
  3. Scenarios such as company closures or mass layoffs trigger Massachusetts's WARN Act's requirements.
  4. Failure to comply with the WARN Act can lead to severe penalties for employers, including providing back pay and fines of up to $500 per day of violation.

Understanding layoff and plant closure regulations is crucial for businesses operating in Massachusetts. While Massachusetts does not have a state-specific WARN Act, compliance with the federal WARN Act is mandatory to ensure legal adherence during significant workforce reductions.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the critical aspects of the Massachusetts WARN Act, including layoff notice requirements, definitions of mass layoffs, and penalties for non-compliance.

Whether you're an employer planning a significant organizational change or an employee seeking clarity on your rights, this guide provides essential information to navigate the complexities of the WARN Act in Massachusetts.

Does Massachusetts Have a State WARN Act?

All US states must follow the federal WARN Act regulations. Additionally, some states have stricter rules tailored to companies or employees within their borders.

However, Massachusetts is not among those states with separate WARN Act regulations. Therefore, any employer initiating a mass layoff or plant closure in Massachusetts must still comply with the federal WARN Act regulations to remain lawful.

What Are Massachusetts Layoff Notice Requirements?

The WARN Act Massachusetts lays out specific regulations regarding its scope of application. These include:

  1. Organizations with over 100 full-time employees are subject to the WARN Act.
  2. Both publicly and privately held companies fall under the purview of the WARN Act.
  3. The WARN Act covers both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations.
  4. A WARN notice must be issued in cases of plant closings or mass layoffs.

The first three regulations are clear-cut. WARN Act compliance is not required if your organization has fewer than 100 full-time employees (FTEs). However, the WARN Act applies if your organization surpasses the 100 FTE threshold, whether public or private, for-profit or not-for-profit.

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What are Layoff Laws Massachusetts?

According to federal guidelines, which apply to Massachusetts, let's examine what constitutes a "mass layoff."

According to the federal  Massachusetts WARN notice, a mass layoff is "a reduction in force resulting in an employment loss at a single site of employment within 30 days, affecting either (i) at least 33 percent of employees (excluding part-time employees) and a minimum of 50 employees (excluding part-time employees), or (ii) a minimum of 500 employees (excluding part-time employees)."

In essence, this requires any reduction in the workforce that impacts at least 50 employees and one-third of the total workforce at the worksite or 500 or more employees at a single site of employment.

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MA WARN Act Examples

  • Company Closure: Suppose a manufacturing company opts to close one of its factories due to financial challenges. If this closure will lead to a significant loss of jobs, the company must comply with the WARN Act.

For instance, if the factory employs 300 workers, the company must provide at least 60 days’ notice to affected employees or their representatives before the closure, as mandated by the WARN Act.

  • Mass Layoff: Consider a retail chain facing a decline in sales, deciding to lay off numerous employees across multiple locations. If the layoff affects at least 50 employees at a single site within 30 days, the company must adhere to the WARN Act.

For example, if a department store lays off 75 employees from one of its branches, it must give affected employees at least 60 days’ notice before the layoffs occur.

  • Failure to Comply: When an employer fails to furnish the required notice under the WARN Act, they may be obligated to provide employees with back pay and benefits for each day of the violation, up to a maximum of 60 days.

For instance, if a company fails to notify 100 employees before shutting down a plant, and the affected employees are entitled to 60 days of back pay and benefits, the employer could face significant financial penalties.

  • Exceptions: Certain exceptions exist under the WARN Act, such as unforeseeable business circumstances or natural disasters. In such instances, employers may not be obliged to provide the full 60 days’ notice but must notify employees as soon as possible.

For example, suppose a sudden economic downturn forces a company to close a facility immediately. In that case, they must promptly notify affected employees, even if it's less than 60 days in advance.

The WARN Act Massachusetts aims to offer workers job security and preparation time in case of potential layoffs or plant closures, enabling them to explore alternative employment or training opportunities.

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What Triggers the WARN Act Massachusetts?

Specific scenarios activate the WARN Act in Massachusetts:

  1. Plant Closings: Any plant closure impacting 50 or more employees for a minimum of 30 days.
  2. Mass Layoffs: Mass layoffs affecting at least 500 full-time employees.
  3. Large-Scale Layoffs: Mass layoffs involving at least 50 full-time employees, constituting 33% or more of the employer’s workforce.
  4. Extended Closures or Layoffs: Plant closures or layoffs prolonged beyond 90 days.

What Is the Plant Closing Warn Notification Massachusetts?

Like mass layoffs, the federal definition of a "plant closing" applies to employers adhering to the Massachusetts WARN report.

As per the federal WARN Report Massachusetts, a plant closing is defined as "the permanent or temporary shutdown of a single site of employment, or one or more facilities or operating units within a single site of employment, resulting in an employment loss at the single site of employment within any 30 days for 50 or more employees, excluding any part-time employees."

In simpler terms, this refers to a worksite shutting down for 30 days or more, impacting 50 or more employees.

How is the Massachusetts WARN list of Requirements Enforced?

Enforcement of the WARN Act Massachusetts list of requirements falls under the purview of the United States District Courts. Workers, their representatives, and local government entities can initiate individual or class-action lawsuits against employers suspected of violating the Act. The court can order the prevailing party to receive reasonable attorney’s fees for the total costs if violations are proven.

Failure to adhere to the WARN Act Massachusetts, such as not providing sufficient notice periods, can result in various penalties. These penalties may include back pay for affected employees and fines of up to $500 per day of violation.

Employers must settle any liabilities with affected employees within three weeks of a closure or layoff. Non-compliance could result in lawsuits in the U.S. District Court, individually or as a class action.

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Massachusetts does not have its own WARN Act. Compliance with federal regulations is essential for businesses undergoing significant layoffs or closures. Understanding the WARN Act Massachusetts requirements and potential penalties can help employers and employees navigate these challenging situations more effectively. Organizations can ensure legal compliance and support their workforce during transitions by staying informed and prepared.

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Update at 05/23/2024

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