Cal-WARN Notice Requirement for Single-Site Terminations and Relocations

As many employers operating in California are aware, in addition to the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, California has its own California Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (Cal-WARN) Act. As would be expected, the coverage under Cal-WARN is broader than the federal WARN Act; there are also different requirements under Cal-WARN. Therefore, when conducting a mass layoff or plant shutdown, employers must not only ensure that they are compliant with the federal WARN Act, but they should also determine if Cal-WARN applies and if any additional compliance requirements apply to the employers’ actions. Also, in addition to notice requirements for mass layoffs and plant shutdowns (cessation, or substantial cessation, of industrial or commercial operations), Cal-WARN provides notice requirements for “relocations,” which consist of “removal of all or substantially all of the industrial or commercial operations in a covered establishment to a different location 100 miles or more away.” Employers operating in California should be familiar with both laws and the requirements under each.

One area that is ripe for error are those circumstances involving plant closings (“termination” under Cal-WARN) and “relocations.” It is reasonable for an employer to assume that under Cal-WARN, a notice requirement only applies for a “relocation” or “termination” if such action affects a “covered establishment” (which Cal-WARN defines as a location which employs, or has employed in the previous 12 months, 75 or more persons). In fact, a simple reading of the statute suggests that this is the case (CA Labor Code Section §1400 and §1401). However, the California Employment Development Department takes the position that, regardless of the number of affected employees, a notice is required for all plant closures and relocations (of at least 100 miles). Therefore, in such an instance, an employer will need to ensure compliance with the Cal-WARN notice requirements for any “terminations” and “relocations.”

In closing, in the event that an employer is planning on closing an entire work site, or conducting a “relocation” in California, the employer should keep in mind these Cal-WARN considerations to ensure compliance with any applicable requirements. Please contact Employers Council in the event that you need any assistance in navigating such requirements.