New Jersey Gives Employers a Break on New WARN Requirements Due to COVID-19
On April 14th New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed Senate Bill 2353 into law. The law delays the application date of the New Jersey WARN amendments passed earlier this year and removes mass layoffs due to COVID-19 from coverage under the statute.
As detailed in a prior blog, New Jersey previously enacted a dramatic expansion of its state mini-WARN Act. The amendments, signed into law on January 21, 2020, expanded the statute’s notice requirements, definition of establishment, the counting and coverage of part-time employees, and lowered threshold for mass layoffs. Most notably, the amendments included a mandatory severance requirement. These changes were scheduled to take effect on July 19, 2020. SB 2353 pushes the effective date back to 90 days after the Governor’s stay-at-home executive order is terminated.
Substantively, SB 2353 alters the definition of mass layoff to exclude layoffs due to COVID-19. The amendment excludes layoffs made necessary by fire, flood, natural disasters, national emergency, act of war, and more from the term “mass layoff.” This change is retroactive to March 9th, excluding COVID-19 layoffs made on or after that date from coverage under NJ WARN.
Sheppard Mullin is committed to providing employers with updated information regarding COVID-19 and its impact on the workplace. Stay informed on legal implications with Sheppard Mullin’s Coronavirus Insights Portal which now aggregates the firm’s various COVID-19 blog posts on a broad range of topics.
As you are aware, things are changing quickly and there is no clear-cut authority or bright line rules. This is not an unequivocal statement of the law, but instead represents our best interpretation of where things currently stand. This article does not address other the potential impacts of the numerous other local, state and federal orders that have been issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including, without limitation, potential liability should an employee become ill, requirements regarding family leave, sick pay and other issues.