Effective November 11, 2020, New York amended its Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (“NY WARN Act”) by expanding the government entities that must receive notice of a NY WARN Act triggering event, such as a facility closing or mass layoff.

As a reminder, the NY WARN Act requires employers with at least 50 full-time employees who plan to conduct a closing affecting 25 or more employees; mass layoff involving 25 or more full-time employees (if the 25 or more employees make up at least 33% of all the employees at the site); or mass layoffs involving 250 or more full-time employees,1 to provide 90 days' written notice to employees as well as various government entities of said triggering employment action. 

Businesses that do not provide such notice may be required to pay back wages and benefits to workers in addition to civil penalties.

Prior to this amendment, business were only required to provide notice under the NY WARN to the following individuals and governmental entities:

(1)      affected employees and their union representatives (if any);

(2)     the New York State Department of Labor; and

(3)     the Local Workforce Investment Board for the locality in which the mass layoff, relocation, or employment loss will occur

Following this amendment, employers must also provide advanced written notice to:

(4)     the chief elected official of the unit or units of local government and the school district or districts in which the mass layoff, relocation or employment loss will occur; and

(5)     each locality which provides police, firefighting, emergency medical or ambulance services or other emergency services to the site of employment subject to the mass layoff, relocation, or employment loss, as applicable.

The legislative history explains that the purpose of these additional notice requirements is to provide the communities and school districts surrounding the location that is having the NY WARN triggering event that: (1) they may have to address health and safety dangers with respect to a large abandoned property; and (2) loss of revenue may require significant and immediate budgetary changes.

As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on business operations in New York and nationwide, employers should be mindful of their current obligations under the NY WARN Act.  Seyfarth continues to monitor New York legislature's response to COVID-19 and will provide further updates as available.  Feel free to contact the authors of this article or the attorney at Seyfarth with whom you normally work for further information.  


1 Certain relocations and covered reductions in work hours may also trigger NY WARN Act notice requirements.

Originally Published by Seyfarth Shaw, November 2020

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.