On April 14, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed S-2353, which amends the New Jersey Millville Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Notification Act (New Jersey’s mini-WARN statute) in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As we previously reported here, New Jersey amended its mini-WARN statute in January 2020. Among the January amendments was the requirement that employers who conduct a covered “mass layoff” pay affected employees severance equivalent to one week’s pay for each year of employment. The January 2020 amendment was set to go into effect on July 19, 2020. Yesterday’s amendments resulting from S-2353 provide employers with some much-needed relief from these requirements.

First, the amendment pushes the effective date of the January 2020 amendments, including the severance requirements and other changes which we discussed in depth in the article linked above, to 90 days after the termination of Executive Order 103 (declaring a state of emergency in New Jersey as a result of COVID-19). Accordingly, the law will not take effect until after the COVID-19 emergency passes.

Second, the amendment changes the definition of “mass layoff” to specifically exclude layoffs necessitated because of “fire, flood, natural disaster, national emergency, act of war, civil disorder or industrial sabotage, decertification from participation in the Medicare and Medicaid programs” or “license revocation.” This change is retroactive to March 9, 2020. The immediate effect of this change is that companies forced to conduct a mass layoff due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will not need to comply with the requirements of the law. The change will also have lasting impacts on future operations and will exempt economic disruptions caused by natural disasters or other similar emergencies.

New Jersey’s Legislature and Governor continue to be active in responding to COVID-19, and Reed Smith will continue to provide updates. If you have questions about the changes to New Jersey’s mini-WARN law, or any other workplace concerns, Reed Smith’s Labor and Employment attorneys are available to assist.