Q. We employ nearly 100 employees at a facility in San Jose. What type of notice must we provide if we are planning to lay off more than half of these employees during the first quarter of next year?
A. The California-specific Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act applies to a “covered establishment” with 75 or more full- or part-time employees. Covered employers must provide workers with notice at least 60 days prior to a plant closing, layoff or relocation.
In addition, notice must be given to the Local Workforce Investment Board and the chief elected official of each city and county government within which a termination, relocation or mass layoff will occur.
To notify employees, any reasonable method of delivery is acceptable as long as it ensures receipt 60 days in advance (e.g., first-class mail, personal delivery with optional signed receipt).
Inserting a notice into employees’ paychecks or pay envelopes is another viable option.
Failure to comply with the notice requirements could result in a civil penalty of $500 a day for each day of violation. Employees may receive back pay to be paid at the employee’s final rate or a three-year average rate of compensation (whichever is higher). The employer is liable for the period of violation up to 60 days or one-half the number of days the employee was employed (whichever period is smaller).