The wait is over. On January 10, 2023, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed bills S3162/A4768 into law thereby making April 10, 2023 the effective date for the sweeping amendments to the state’s WARN Act (“NJ WARN Act”), which had been placed on hold for three years due to the pandemic.
With the pause lifted, the new, and some would say Draconian, provisions will kick-in in less than three months.
As we previously discussed here, the amendments:
- mandate severance pay equal to one week for each full year of service irrespective of whether the employer complied with the state’s WARN Act notice requirements;
- provide for an additional four weeks’ pay per affected employee where the employer fails to give the requisite notice;
- expand the notice period from 60 days to 90 days;
- remove the distinction between “part-time” and “full-time” employees, such that part-time and short-service employees are now:
- counted in determining whether an employer meets the 100-employee threshold for being a covered employer; and
- counted in determining whether a termination, transfer, or layoff meets the threshold for required notice;
- remove the requirement that to trigger a “mass layoff,” at least one-third of the employer’s workforce at a worksite experiences a loss of employment; and
- broaden the definition of “Establishment” to include all of an employer’s New Jersey locations (not just those that are contiguous), eliminating the site-by-site analysis of terminations to determine if NJ WARN Act notice is required.
New Jersey employers contemplating a reduction-in-force must review these changes to the law carefully to ensure compliance and avoid significant financial exposure, which now extends to any supervisor, manager, executive, officer, director, or owner who was directly or indirectly involved in the decision-making process.