In the Midst of COVID-19 Legislature Amends NJ Warn Act

On April 14, 2020, in apparent recognition of the toll that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on New Jersey businesses, Governor Murphy signed an amendment to the Millville Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Notification Law, N.J.S.A. 34:21-1 to -7 (the “NJ WARN Act”) in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The new amendments contain two key provisions:  one delays the effective date of an extensive set of amendments to the NJ WARN Act, and the other expands the exceptions to the NJ WARN Act to account for the COVID-19 crisis.  The key provisions are as follows:

  • As we previously blogged, the NJ WARN Act amendments were set to go into effect on July 19, 2020.  These amendments were expansive and, among other things, required 90 days’ advance notice of a “mass layoff” or “termination of operations.”  The amendments also require severance pay, even where such notice is provided. Yesterday’s amendment delays the effective date of these amendments until the 90th day next following the termination of the current state of emergency, declared by Governor Murphy, in Executive Order 103, on March 9, 2020.
  • The NJ WARN Act’s original amendments did not contain any exception to its requirements for notice and severance pay in the event of a “mass layoff.” The new amendment now specifically excludes from the definition of “mass layoff” a “mass layoff made necessary because of a fire, flood, natural disaster, national emergency, act of war, civil disorder or industrial sabotage, decertification from participation in the Medicare and Medicaid programs as provided under Titles VIII and XIX of the federal ‘Social Security Act’ . . . or license revocation pursuant to P.L. 1971, c. 136 (C.26:2H-1 et als).”  (emphasis added).  This amended definition of “mass layoff” is retroactive to March 9, 2020.  “National emergency” presumably includes the current COVID pandemic.

These amendments should be welcome news for struggling New Jersey employers.

As the law continues to evolve on these matters, please note that this article is current as of date and time of publication and may not reflect subsequent developments. The content and interpretation of the issues addressed herein is subject to change. Cole Schotz P.C. disclaims any and all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this publication to the fullest extent permitted by law. This is for general informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Do not act or refrain from acting upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining legal, financial and tax advice. For further information, please do not hesitate to reach out to your firm contact or to any of the attorneys listed in this publication.

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