On November 20, 2007, Governor Jon Corzine signed a new law entitled the "Millville Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Notification Act" ("NJ WARN Act"). As a result, effective immediately, the NJ WARN Act may require certain employers to provide 60 days notice prior to "mass layoffs," "transfers of operations" or "terminations of operations" (as each term is defined under the law). The notice requirement is modeled after and generally similar to requirements under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act ("Federal WARN Act"). There are, however, significant differences between the Federal WARN Act and the NJ WARN Act including, among other things, the following:
- The NJ WARN Act only applies to establishments in New Jersey which have been in operation for a period longer than three years.
- The NJ WARN Act requires employers to provide 60 days notice "before the first termination of employment occurs in connection with the termination or transfer of operations or mass layoff."
- Under the NJ WARN Act, a "termination of employment" does not "refer to any situation in which an employer offers to an employee, at a location inside the state [of New Jersey] and not more than 50 miles from the previous place of employment, the same employment or a position with equivalent status, benefits, pay and other terms and conditions of employment." In contrast, under the Federal WARN Act, certain transfers within a "reasonable commuting distance" do not trigger the notice requirement (but the "reasonable commuting distance" is not restricted to another location within the same State).
- Under the NJ WARN Act, employers who fail to provide 60 days notice will be required to pay to employees, among other things, severance equal to one (1) week of pay for each full year of employment (and may also be liable for additional penalties). The NJ WARN Act does not expressly provide for the reduction of this severance amount if the employee received less than the full 60 days notice. Under the Federal WARN Act, affected employees are eligible instead to receive the amount of pay and benefits that they would have received had the full 60 days notice been provided to them.
- Although the Federal WARN Act contains an exception to the notice requirement for "unforeseeable business circumstances," such as the sudden loss of a major contract, the NJ WARN Act contains a more limited exception. Specifically, the NJ WARN Act provides that "a layoff of more than six months which, at its outset, was announced to be a layoff of six months or less, shall not be treated as a termination of employment under this act if the extension beyond six months is caused by business circumstances not reasonably foreseeable at the time of the initial layoff and notice is given at the time it becomes reasonably foreseeable that the extension beyond six months will be required."
- Although the Federal WARN Act contains an exception that may apply in the context of a "sale of business," the NJ WARN Act does not expressly contain any similar exception.
- The NJ WARN Act requires that additional information be included in the written notices to be provided to, among others, the affected employees, including "a statement of any employment available to employees at any other establishment operated by the employer." In addition, on or before March 18, 2008, the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development must make available a form notice and, once it is available, employers must use this form notice if the NJ WARN Act applies.