Shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, in January 2020, Governor Murphy signed into law sweeping changes to New Jersey’s mini-WARN act. The first-of-its-kind law in the nation required mandatory severance payments for employees who lost their jobs in a mass layoff. We discussed details of the changes here. The law was scheduled to take effect in July 2020. However, as discussed here, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated strain and uncertainty for businesses, Governor Murphy delayed the effective date until 90 days after the end of the State of Emergency declared as a result of the pandemic.
Over a year later, as restrictions begin to lift throughout the nation, Governor Murphy has announced that he may allow the State of Emergency (which has been in effect since March 2020) to sunset on the next expiration date, June 13, 2021. Governor Murphy’s announcement noted that this is conditional on the legislature taking certain steps to deal with the ongoing issues stemming from the pandemic, however, as talks about the expiration of the State of Emergency loom, it is a good time for employers to refresh themselves on the details of the law. While there is still the possibility of a further extension of the State of Emergency or other legislative action impacting the effective date of the law, if the State of Emergency does end of June 13, 2021, employers can expect the new WARN act requirements to take effect on September 11, 2021. Employers should familiarize themselves with the New Jersey requirements and be prepared to pay mandatory severance in mass layoffs occurring after the effective date of the law.
Reed Smith’s Labor & Employment team will continue to monitor these developments and provide updates. Should you have any questions about the requirements under the new law or other issues impacting your work force, Reed Smith’s experienced attorneys are available to assist.