What notice must I give California employees upon termination?

Q. As a California employer, what forms and notices am I required to provide to employees I discharge? Also, are the forms and notices due immediately upon termination?

A. California employers are required by law to provide a number of forms and notices to their discharged employees, many of which much be given immediately upon termination of employment.

Federal law requires a number of these documents, but California has additional requirements that you should understand.

Federal requirements

COBRA: Employers with 20 or more employees must provide their employees who are participating in the em­­ployer’s group health plan with a Consolidated Omni­­bus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) notice and election form. This form must be given the day before separation.

HIPAA: Employers must provide a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) certificate of group health plan coverage to all discharged employees who are participating in the group health plan at the time of termination.

Retirement benefits: The IRS requires that employers give certain notices to discharged employees within specific time frames to advise the employees of their rights to retirement benefits.

WARN Act: The federal Worker Adjustment and Retrain­­­­ing Notification Act (WARN) requires most em­­ployers with 100 or more employees to provide employ­­ees with notice of plant closings and mass layoffs 60 days in advance.

California requirements

Unemployment benefits: California’s Employment Development Department requires employers to provide its unemployment benefits pamphlet—“For Your Bene­­fit” DE 2320—to all discharged or laid off employees by no later than the effective date of the discharge or layoff.

Unemployment insurance: Immediately upon termination, employers must give a written “Notice to Employee as to Change in Relationship” form to all laid off or discharged employees.

Health Insurance: Pursuant to California Labor Code §2807, employers with 20 or more employees must provide certain covered employees with the Health Insur­­ance Premium Payment (HIPP) notice, DHCS 9061. The HIPP notice should be provided to the employee along with the CORBA notice.

Cal-COBRA: Employers must notify covered, discharged employees of their rights to continued health insurance coverage rights under Cal-COBRA. Cal-COBRA must be offered to:

  • Discharged employees of employers with fewer than 20 employees
  • Discharged employees covered under federal COBRA when their 18 months of federal COBRA expires.

Coverage options: Upon discharge, all employees must receive notification of all continuation, disability extension and conversion coverage options under any employer-sponsored insurance for which they remain eligible.

California WARN Act: Similar to the federal WARN Act, employers must provide at least 60 days notice of a mass layoff. However, California WARN is triggered by a layoff of 50 or more employees, among other differences.