On January 10, 2023, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed Assembly Bill No. 4768, allowing significant amendments to the Millville Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Notification Act (NJ WARN) to take effect on April 10, 2023, 90 days after his signature.
The amendments (Amendments) were originally passed in January 2020 but implementation was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that Governor Murphy has signed Assembly Bill No. 4768, the following changes to NJ WARN will take effect on April 10, 2023:
- Employers will need to provide 90 days’ advance notice before covered mass layoffs and plant closings. This is an enlargement from the current 60-day notice requirement.
- Employers will be required to provide employees affected by a mass layoff “severance pay equal to one week of pay for each full year of employment.” Previously, pay was only required when an employer failed to provide requisite notice. The Amendments also state that employees may not waive this right to severance without state or court approval. Additionally, employers who fail to provide the required notice must pay an additional four weeks’ severance to affected employees as a penalty for the violation. (Notably, there is a pending lawsuit in federal court in New Jersey (styled The ERISA Industry Committee v. Robert Asaro-Angelo, 3:20-cv-10094-ZNQ-TJB) asserting that the Amendment’s severance provisions are preempted by ERISA.)
- NJ WARN will now be triggered by any mass layoff impacting at least 50 employees at or reporting to an establishment. This reduces the threshold substantially—currently, NJ WARN is triggered only where discharged employees amount to either 500 employees at an establishment, or 50 employees that represent at least 33 percent of the total workforce at the establishment. After April 10, a layoff of 50 employees will implicate NJ WARN regardless of whether they constitute 33 percent of the workforce.
- The Amendments also enlarge the definition of “establishment” to include the aggregate of all an employer’s New Jersey locations that have been in operation for longer than three years. Effectively, this means that employers will need to contend with NJ WARN if they terminate 50 employees across multiple locations within the state.
- NJ WARN still applies only to employers with 100 or more employees, but part-time employees are now expressly included in that count. Part-time employees also are now included in the 50-employee threshold for determining whether a layoff event is a mass layoff under NJ WARN.
Employers operating in New Jersey who are considering reductions in force should carefully review and consider these new obligations and should be prepared to comply with these changes as of April 10, 2023.