Layoffs ahead? Comply with notification law

Janet Arrowood

Layoffs loom in almost every industry. If your company hasn’t yet been affected, great. But if you’re looking at layoffs, furloughs or other reductions in force, you need to know about and understand the provisions of the Worker Readjustment and Retraining Notification Act — or WARN.

What is WARN, and why should you care? According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, “WARN is a law that requires employers to provide employees experiencing employment loss with a 60-day notice prior to a layoff, although some exceptions apply. The WARN [Act] protects workers, their families and communities from the impact of mass layoffs.”

Who needs to file a WARN? Employers that experience an event triggering a WARN, including mass layoffs, plant closings or the sale of a business. There are a number of exceptions, so a visit to the CDLE website  at https://cdle.colorado.gov/employers/layoff-separations/worker-adjustment-retraining-notification constitutes a critical first step.

Here are some highlights from the CDLE website to help you file a WARN notice:

A WARN notice must be provided to either affected workers or their representatives — a labor union, for example — as well as the State Dislocated Worker Unit and to the appropriate unit of local government. No particular form of notice or record is required, but the content of the WARN notification must be specific and provided in writing. Failure to provide adequate notice to employees could result in prosecution and penalties.

Sample WARN letters can be viewed online at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Km1mSUnCGE3EtZQTnZEUwxbdDTOcDZmNx6bviTwl2jI/edit#gid=0

Resources also are available to help you avoid layoffs or other staff reductions.

Colorado rapid response representatives can give you additional ideas and resources to reduce or eliminate the need for layoffs.

Representatives also provide services to assist you and your employees if layoffs are unavoidable. Some of the specific services they can help with are:

Information on WARN requirements.

Job placement assistance.

On-site layoff transition workshops.

Guidance for employers for establishing an on-site career or outplacement center to assist employees with employment needs

Steps to reduce attrition prior to the layoff date.

There are dozens of Colorado Workforce Centers across the state, including one in Grand Junction. Some centers are staffed full-time, while others are satellite centers staffed on a set schedule. The Mesa County Workforce Center is located at  512 29 1/2 Road. There are also centers in Delta, Gunnison, Montrose and Rifle. Access could limited and may be by appointment only due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions. Services include:

Access to job listings.

Computer and internet access.

Career counseling and training for job seekers.

Recruitment of workers, prescreening and referral services.

Tax credits and training reimbursement for employers.

Self-service or staff-assisted options.

Colorado Workforce Centers have career counselors to help connect workers and job seekers with local employment, training and educational opportunities as well as any available funding. The centers also help workers improve their interview skills and resumes. Employers have access to business services representatives to connect them to funding and training opportunities while also helping them recruit, hire and retain talent.

Knowing your requirements and available services is essential to ensure layoffs and other force reductions are handled in a compliant manner.