New Jersey Updates Notification Form for Plant Closings, Layoffs

New Jersey employers have a new notifcation form to use for a law that subjects large employers to significant penalties if they do not warn in writing their employees, the state, and the local authority of a planned mass layoff or closing 60 days before it happens. New Jersey requires a more detailed notice than the federal WARN act requires, and the state's statute also says each full-time terminated employee given less than the number of days of notification shall receive severance pay based on his or her years of service.

The New Jersey law applies only to individuals or private businesses that have been operating in the state for more than three years and that employ 100 or more full-time employees. It defines "mass layoff" as a RIF that terminates employment at an establishment during any 30-day period for 500 or more full-time employees or for 50 or more of the full-time employees representing one-third ore more of the full-time employees of the establishment. The law does not cover closings caused by fire, flood, natural disaster, national emergency, act of war, civil disorder, industrial sabotage, license revocation, or decertification from participation in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

While a notice must go to the office of the state's commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development, that office has no enforcement authority under the state law. It is responsible for dispatching rapid response teams to refer and counsel workers who are affected by a layoff or closing. The department's notification form and a side-by-side comparison of the federal and state laws is posted at http://lwd.state.nj.us/labor/forms_pdfs/lwdhome/Legal/LayoffNotificationForm2_31208REVDD6.pdf.

Here's how the state and federal laws differ in what the required notification must contain: Federal WARN requires name and address of the employment site where the layoff or closing will occur, a statement saying whether the closing is expected to be permanent or temporary, job titles of positions to be affected and the number of workers in each affected job classification, an indication whether bumping rights exist, and name and phone number of a company official to contact. New Jersey's law requires the number of employees to be terminated and the date; a statement explaining why the closing or mass layoff is taking place; a statement of any jobs available at any other establishment of the employer and details of those jobs' benefits, pay, terms, and conditions; a statement of any employee rights to wages, severance, pension, or benefits related to the termination; a disclosure of the amount of severance pay that is payable; and a statement of employees' rights to receive information and help from the public response team.

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