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What California Employers Need to Know when Making Layoff Decisions

Posted on in Employment

As an employer, it is critical that you understand how California law affects the employment relationship, and requirements that may affect you when making decisions that affect large numbers of your employee population.

Employees of certain employers are protected under California law, as described below.

What is the Cal-WARN Act?

California law expands on the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act by requiring employers to provide written notice to affected employees and other state, city and county officials at least 60 days in advance of a covered layoff, covered plant closing or covered relocation (to a location more than 100 miles away) of 50 or more employees within a 30 day period.

Who must comply with Cal-WARN?

Where the federal law applies to employers of 100 or more employees, California law applies to employers with 75 or more full-time or part-time employees. For purposes of counting employees, an employee must have been employed for at least six of the preceding 12 months to be counted.

Are all employees covered?

No. Only full-time and part-time employees are covered; the law does not extend to temporary, seasonal or contract workers.

How can employees provide the required notice?

As long as notice is reasonably expected to be received at least 60 days before the layoff, plant closing or mass relocation, the law allows for some flexibility in how notices are provided. While the law specifies what information must be included, the notices themselves can be mailed or hand-delivered.

What are the penalties for non-compliance?

Covered employees who did not receive notice of a covered layoff, plant closing or mass relocation may be eligible for pay and benefits for the 60 day notice period and their former employers may be required to pay court costs and attorneys' fees. In addition, employers who fail to comply with the law may face fines and penalties to the state.

If you are an employer contemplating layoffs or other staffing changes, contact us to determine how best to meet your obligations under the law.

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