What is the WARN Act and What Role Does it Play in Mass Layoffs?

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO)- WARN is an acronym for the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification act. The federal law took effect in the late 80s to offer protection to workers affected by mass layoffs.

“The WARN Act applies to companies with 100 or more employees. If there is a mass layoff or they have a closing, they have to give notice to us, the local official- whether it’s a mayor or town administrator, and of course the affected employees 60 days prior to the closing,” said Bob Bouyea of the Dept. of Employment and Workforce.

In a statement, SCANA said SCE&G provided notification in compliance with applicable laws to all of the 600 impacted employees.

In a July 31st letter to Fairfield County officials, the company notes the closure dates as September 30th.

In a notice from Fluor, a V.C. Summer contractor that employed more than 4,000 workers, contractors were informed the 31st would be their last day.

Experts said an employer can be exempt from providing 60 days notice under certain circumstances.

“There are exceptions to the WARN Act. Those are if it’s a faltering business, if there are unforeseen business circumstances, or a natural disaster,” said Bouyea.

According to the Department of Employment and Workforce Individual contractors and subcontractors are not covered by WARN but contracting companies may have to file their own warn if they have 100 or more employees.

Labor law experts said sometimes companies have abrupt departures to protect their interests.

“Let’s say they had given employees notice two months ago.  It sounds like that would have put them in a bad negotiating position which is what those exceptions are there for and the chances of them staying alive would have been much more difficult and that’s probably what they’re arguing,” said USC Professor of Law Joseph Seiner.
The Department of Employment and Workforce says employees and contractors alike are welcome to visit their S.C. Works centers for assistance in finding a new job or filing for benefits. Visit their website for more information.


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