Under federal law, there is the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) which sets forth certain requirements for businesses who are closing locations and/or proceeding with large-scale reductions in force. As is typical for the state, California has separate WARN regulations often referred to as Cal-WARN.

Here are some of the important differences between the federal and California WARN Acts:

  Federal WARN Cal-WARN
Covered Employers

Applicable only to employers with 100 or more full-time employees* who must have been employed for at least 6 months of the 12 months preceding the date of required notice in order to be counted.


* Or 100 or more employees (including part-time employees) who in the aggregate work at least 4,000 hours per week (exclusive of overtime)

Any industrial or commercial facility or part thereof that employs, or has employed within the preceding 12 months, 75 or more persons.


Plant Closing (Termination), Layoff, or Relocation Requiring Notice

Plant closings involving 50 or more employees (excluding part-time employees) during a 30-day period. Layoffs within a 30-day period involving 50 to 499 full-time employees constituting at least 33% of the full-time workforce at a single site of employment. Layoffs of 500 or more full-time employees are covered regardless of the percentage of the workforce.

Does not cover employees who may otherwise be affected by relocations or consolidations of parts or all of the business if there is no more than a six-month break in employment and the employer offers a transfer to the employee within a reasonable commuting distance, or the employee accepts the transfer regardless of distance within 30 days of the offer or the closing or layoff, whichever is later.

Plant closure affecting any number of employees. Layoff of 50 or more employees within a 30-day period regardless of % of the workforce. Relocation of at least 100 miles affecting any number of employees.
Notice Requirement An employer must provide written notice 60-days prior to a plant closing or mass layoff to employees or their representative, the State dislocated worker unit (the Employment Development Department, Workforce Services Division in California), and the chief elected official of local government within which such closing or layoff is to occur. An employer must give notice 60-days prior to a plant closing, layoff, or relocation. In addition to the notifications required under federal WARN, notice must also be given to the Local Workforce Development Board, and the chief elected official of each city and county government within which the termination, relocation, or mass layoff occurs.


California’s Employment Development Department (EDD) also has an FAQ page that may be useful for employers.

If you need assistance with a mass layoff and related issues, contact a Jackson Lewis attorney to discuss.