Background The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) is a federal law that protects workers, their families, and communities by requiring most employers with 100 or more employees to provide notification 60 calendar days in advance of plant closings and mass layoffs. Employees entitled to notice under WARN include managers and supervisors, as well as hourly and salaried workers. WARN requires that notice also be given to employees' representatives, the local chief elected official, and the state dislocated worker unit.

Advance notice gives workers and their families some transition time to adjust to the prospective loss of employment, to seek and obtain other jobs, and, if necessary, to enter skill training or retraining that will allow these workers to compete successfully in the job market.

Enforcement Neither the federal government (e.g., the U.S. Department of Labor) nor state or local governments have been given authority under WARN to enforce its provisions. Any individual who believes that the WARN Act has been violated regarding his particular situation thus must file suit in federal court on behalf of himself (either individually or as part of a class action). While some states have enacted their own versions of the WARN Act to provide additional worker protections, Virginia has not.

Further Information Although DOL has no enforcement role in seeking damages for workers who did not receive adequate notice of a layoff or received no notice at all, it does provide a wealth of information about WARN and its provisions. For example, www.dol.gov/compliance/laws/comp-warn.htm gives an overview of the Act, along with, among other things, “Compliance Assistance Materials” (such as the “WARN Guide to Advance Notice of Closings and Layoffs”). The Virginia Employment Commission also has information about WARN on its website. For example, the VEC’s website indicates that, effective July 1, 2007, the Governor's Office for Workforce Development assumed responsibility for the State Dislocated Worker Unit. All WARN Notices and requests for Rapid Response Assistance should thus be directed there.