Ohio employers will want to pay close attention to H.B. 434, which was proposed by House Representative Kenny Yuko, D-Richmond Heights, last week. The Bill is similar in nature to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act ( “WARN”), but goes further than the federal law in several respects. For example, the Bill would require an employer in Ohio laying off 25 or more employees in any 30-day period to give at least 90-days’ advance written notice of the layoff to affected employees, local workforce policy boards, and certain state departments and local elected officials. The notice period would be expanded to 120 days for employers planning to lay off 250 or more employees. Also, the penalties for violations include double back pay for all affected employees, as well as the full value of their employee benefits.
The Bill does contain exceptions similar to those found in WARN, including exceptions for temporary facilities, layoffs arising from “circumstances that were not reasonably foreseeable,” caused by “physical calamity, natural disaster, or act of war,” or where the employer can show that "notice would have blocked incoming capital which might have prevented the layoff.”
H.B. 434 is still in the very early stages of the legislative process. However, because it would expand employer advance notice obligations in several respects beyond WARN’s requirements, it bears watching – and perhaps warrants a call to your State representative.