NEW YORK NURSE: April 2009
Q.: There have been rumors at my facility about layoffs. Obviously, I’m concerned. I’ll need time to look for a new job and my family will need time to adjust our finances. Isn’t there a law that requires we be given advance notice?
A.: Yes, both the U.S. and New York State governments have Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) acts. These laws seek to protect workers by requiring employers to provide advance written notice of closings or mass layoffs. The New York State WARN Act goes further than the federal statute by requiring employers to also provide advance notice of workplace relocation.
The federal law, in effect since 1989, applies when a private company has 100 or more employees and makes a decision that will result in a job loss for at least 50 employees. The state statute lowers these requirements to a company with 50 or more employees and a job loss of 25 or more.
Anyone who will be expected to experience a job loss – including those who may lose their employment due to “bumping” or displacement. Notice must also be provided to union representatives and to the federal and state departments of labor.
The federal statute requires employers to provide 60 days’ notice, while the New York State WARN Act requires 90 days’ notification.
The New York State WARN Act, which went into effect on Feb. 1, 2009, offers more protection than the federal law because it contains broader definitions of “mass layoff,” and “plant closing.” Violations of the New York State WARN Act are enforceable by the State Commissioner of Labor. Penalties include back pay and benefits for the period of the violation, up to 60 days, along with a civil penalty of $500 for each day of the violation.
The NYSNA EGW Program receives many inquiries each month from members who have problems in their workplaces. If you have a question about labor relations at your facility, contact your NYSNA nursing representative. If you have a question you think should be featured in this column, send it to: RNs at Work, NYSNA, 120 Wall Street, 23rd Floor, New York, N.Y. 10005.