U.S. House Passes WARN Act Reforms

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Oct. 31 to strengthen the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988, which requires employers to notify workers before a mass layoff or plant shutdown. H.R. 3920, the Trade and Globalization Assistance Act of 2007, passed by a vote of 264-157.

"The American people are right to be concerned about the impacts of international trade agreements, particularly in light of the lack of safeguards available to workers affected by trade," said U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. "We must provide substantial assistance to workers who are negatively affected by trade."

H.R. 3920 would require employers to issue a notice of a mass layoff or plant closing 90 days in advance, up from 60 days under current law, whenever 50 or more employees (including part-time workers) at a single job site are laid off. It would also ensure that workers receive comprehensive information about benefits and services available to help them during their period of unemployment. An employer who failed to give advance notice could be liable for double back pay and benefits for up to the 90-day period to the employees, and the Department of Labor would be allowed to investigate and attempt to resolve complaints when employers fail to comply with the law.

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