On April 14, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy signed into law modifications to the New Jersey WARN Act (the “NJ WARN Act” or “the Act”) that delays the implementation of the January 2020 amendments to the Act set to take effect July 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The January 2020 amendments, among other things, significantly expanded notice requirements, required payment of severance to eligible employees who suffer a NJ WARN Act covered termination of employment, and provided an updated definition of what constitutes a “mass layoff” in New Jersey. For more information about the January 2020 amendments please visit our blog post.
What follows is a summary of the changes made in light of COVID-19:
- The effective date of the January NJ WARN Act updates are postponed (from July 17, 2020) to 90 days following the termination of Governor Murphy’s Executive Order declaring a New Jersey State of Emergency. This postponement should provide employers with additional time to make adjustments to their workforces as the COVID-19 situation evolves.
- The definition of “mass layoff” has been changed to exempt layoffs “which are caused by a fire, flood, natural disaster, national emergency, act of war, civil disorder, or certain other events.” As a result, mass layoffs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic would not trigger the notice requirements of the NJ WARN Act. This amendment takes effect immediately and is retroactive to March 9, 2020 (the date Governor Murphy declared a state of emergency).
Employers should consult with legal counsel prior to any anticipated changes to their New Jersey workforces to determine their obligations and ensure compliance.
State laws continue to change rapidly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and employers should monitor how additional changes may impact their workforces. Our compliance team continues to monitor legislative changes and will provide updates as we learn more.
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