What are an employer's notification requirements for layoffs in California?

In California, employers of any size have to comply with state and federal employment laws, and certain employers are subject to additional regulations and requirements.

For example, the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act -- WARN -- applies to companies with 100 or more full-time employees. WARN requires employers to give employees notice 60 days before a mass layoff or a factory closing. In 2003, California expanded on the federal WARN by including a state version in the Labor Code. The California WARN applies to companies with 75 or more full-time or part-time employees.

According to federal and state WARN requirements, if 50 or more employees are to be laid off within a period of 30 days, the employer must give notice 60 days in advance. The federal law applies to layoffs and plant closings, and the state law applies to layoffs, plant closings and workforce relocation of more than 100 miles.

To be in compliance with WARN on the state and federal levels, employers must be mindful of the timing and size of the layoff. If an employer in California is found to have violated WARN provisions, the employer may be liable for back pay to workers and civil penalties, as well as employees' medical expenses that would have otherwise been covered by an employee benefit plan.

Whether you're an employer wondering if you're in compliance with the law, or you're an employee who believes you may have been mistreated by your employer, it is important that you speak with a business and employment law attorney to plan your next steps. Moving ahead with the right legal guidance can help you avoid unwanted surprises.

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