California’s Mass Layoff Notice Requirements Eased Under Governor’s Executive Order

California’s Governor Gavin Newsom has issued an executive order easing the notice provisions under the state’s Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, the law requiring employers to give employees a 60 day notice before implementing certain mass layoffs, relocations, or terminations at covered establishments. Temporary or emergency shutdowns necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to trigger layoffs which could require these WARN act notices.

Under the new executive order, employers are relieved of the 60 day timeframe but they must still provide to the affected employees “as much notice as is practicable" and provide "a brief statement of the basis for reducing the notification period," in addition to certain other requirements. The California Labor & Workforce Development Agency is expected to provide guidance by March 23 concerning how the executive order is to be implemented. The order will remain in effect for the duration of the state’s declared state of emergency.

                Employers should work closely with counsel when conducting any mass layoff of their workforce and be aware that the federal WARN Act, which applies to employers with 100 or more employees, remains unaffected by Governor Newsom’s order.