WARN Act Wisconsin: Compliance Made Easy in 2024!

Updated on 05/19/2024


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  1. Unlike some states, Wisconsin doesn't have its own WARN Act. Instead, it relies on the federal WARN Act to safeguard workers during workforce changes.
  2. Employers must provide comprehensive written notifications detailing affected workers, contact information, and reasons for the workforce changes.
  3. While Wisconsin lacks a mini-WARN Act, other states have implemented their versions with similar but potentially differing criteria and penalties.
  4. Employers in Wisconsin must give 60 days' notice for mass layoffs, including specific details like location, job titles impacted, and contact information for inquiries.
  5. The United States District Courts oversee the enforcement of the WARN Act in Wisconsin.
  6. Penalties for non-compliance range from back pay to fines of $500 per day per violation.

Are you a business owner in Wisconsin handling the complex regulations of labor regulations? Wondering how to ensure compliance with the WARN Act in 2024?

In this blog post, we'll delve into the intricacies of the federal WARN Act and its implications for employers and employees in Wisconsin. From understanding notification requirements to compliance obligations, we'll equip you with the knowledge needed to understand mass layoffs and plant closures effectively within the state.

Does Wisconsin Have a WARN Act?

Wisconsin doesn’t have its own separate WARN Act, also known as a mini-WARN Act. Instead, the federal WARN Act safeguards workers during workforce changes like mass layoffs and plant closures in Wisconsin.

How Does the Federal WARN Act operate in Wisconsin?

Even though Wisconsin hasn't enacted its own WARN Act, employees still have protection under the federal WARN Act. Employers in Wisconsin must furnish WARN Act notifications before closing an office, plant, or branch where employees work.

These notifications must comprehensively detail the situation, including the number of affected workers and whom to contact for additional information. Additionally, the notice must be provided in writing.

Does Wisconsin Have a Mini-WARN Act?

Wisconsin doesn’t have its mini-WARN Act. In contrast to Wisconsin, certain states have implemented their own WARN Acts, known as mini-WARN Acts. These acts operate similarly to the federal WARN Act.

Still, there may be variations in criteria, such as the number of employees triggering its application and the protocols for employers in such circumstances. Additionally, penalties may differ in states with a mini-WARN Act.

What Is the WARN Act Wisconsin?

The WARN Act ensures the protection of employees in Wisconsin during mass layoffs or when offices or plants are shuttered. Employers must adhere to the WARN Act's mandate of providing advance notice to all affected employees before executing layoffs or closures. This advance notification affords employees adequate time to secure alternative employment opportunities.

WARN Notice Wisconsin Regulations

According to the WARN Act, employers in Wisconsin are required to give employees 60 days' notice in the event of a mass layoff. If any affected employees are members of a union, the notification must be directed to the union representatives rather than individual employees.

While there isn’t a mandated template for the WARN notice Wisconsin letter, it must be documented and include all pertinent details concerning the situation.

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What Should be Included in a WI WARN Act?

A WARN act Wisconsin should include details such as:

  1. The location of the mass layoff or plant closure
  2. The reasons behind the occurrence, whether the loss of employment is temporary or permanent
  3. The job titles impacted
  4. The number of affected employees
  5. Union affiliations
  6. Contact information for inquiries

To Whom Should Employers Give WARN Act Wisconsin?

Employers subject to the Wisconsin WARN Act must distribute a notice letter containing all details above to affected employees, their labor union representatives, the state Rapid Response Team, and the primary elected official of the local government where the workplace is situated. This notice letter must be dispatched 60 days prior to the scheduled mass layoff or plant closure.

Which Situation Triggers the WARN Act Wisconsin?

The WARN Act is activated by specific events, such as mass layoffs and plant closures, with further delineated criteria.

These conditions serve as triggers for the WARN Act:

  1. A plant closure that impacts at least 50 employees within 30 days.
  2. A mass layoff affecting at least 500 full-time employees.
  3. A mass layoff affects at least 50 full-time employees, and it should include 33% of the employer’s workforce.
  4. Mass layoffs or plant closures extended over 90 days.

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What Is Plant Closure in WARN Notice?

A plant closure occurs when 50 or more full-time employees lose their jobs due to the shutdown of a worksite or facility. This closure signifies a significant reduction in the workforce and often entails the cessation of operations at that particular location.

What Is Mass Layoff in WARN Notice?

A mass layoff is characterized by the displacement of 500 or more full-time employees within a 30-day timeframe. Unlike a plant closure, this situation does not necessarily involve the complete shutdown of a facility.

Additionally, the mass layoff designation applies when 50 to 499 employees lose their jobs if this number constitutes 33% or more of the employer’s total workforce.

What Is Extended Layoffs WARN Notice?

Extended layoffs refer to situations where the cumulative number of job displacements reaches the threshold for triggering the WARN Act within 90 days. This scenario may occur when multiple groups of workers are laid off individually, with each group not meeting the WARN Act's criteria for advance notification. However, when combined, these layoffs surpass the threshold, necessitating compliance with WARN Act regulations.

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What are the Wisconsin WARN Act Requirements?

The WARN Act in Wisconsin imposes obligations on employers with over 100 employees, with certain exemptions. Employees with less than 6 months of service in the past 12 months and those working less than 20 hours per week on average are excluded from coverage under the Act.

The Act applies universally to various types of employers, encompassing private for-profit entities, private nonprofit organizations, and public employers alike. Both hourly and salaried employees, including managerial and supervisory staff, must receive advance notification of mass layoffs and plant closures.

However, business partners are not subject to notification requirements under the WARN Act. The primary objective of the WARN Act is to safeguard employees and afford them adequate time to secure alternative employment opportunities, emphasizing the importance of advance notification.

How Is The Wisconsin Layoff Laws Enforced?

Wisconsin strongly encourages all employers to provide prior notice to employees, even if they do not meet the threshold triggering requirements outlined in the Act.

The enforcement of the WARN Act in Wisconsin falls under the jurisdiction of the United States District Courts. Workers, along with their representatives and local government entities, retain the right to initiate individual or class-action lawsuits against employers found in violation of the WARN Act.

A violation may entail the failure to issue a WARN notice letter to all affected employees during layoffs. Penalties for non-compliance can range from the requirement to provide back pay to affected workers to fines of $500 per day for each day of violation. Employers are obligated to address these matters with employees within three weeks following the layoffs.

We strongly advise employers to seek legal counsel and consultation from Wisconsin attorneys and to consistently refer to official sources for the most current information on WARN Act requirements, given that the law is subject to change.

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While Wisconsin doesn't have its own WARN Act, the federal WARN Act still protects employees during mass layoffs and plant closures. Employers must provide detailed notifications to affected workers, unions, and government entities, ensuring everyone has adequate time to prepare. Understanding the triggers and requirements of the WARN Act Wisconsin is essential for employers to comply with the law and protect their employees' rights during workforce changes.

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Aneeb Ahmad

Update at 05/19/2024

Aneeb is a full-stack SEO & Content Marketer. He drives our inbound marketing efforts on all touchpoints & writes just about everything related to career guidance, interviews, and professional growth. He loves talking about football when he’s not wordsmithing.

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