Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act offers protection to workers, their families and communities by requiring employers to provide notice 60 days prior to covered closings and covered mass layoffs. This notice must be provided to either the affected workers or their representatives (e.g., a labor union); to the State Rapid Reemployment team; and to the appropriate unit of local government.

Who It Covers


The WARN Act generally covers employers with 100 or more employees, not counting those who worked less than six months in the last 12 months and those who work an average of less than 20 hours a week.

Private, for-profit employers and private, non-profit employers are covered, as are public and quasi-public entities which operate in a commercial context and are separately organized from the regular government.

Regular federal, state and local government entities providing public services are not covered.

Employees entitled to notice include managers and supervisors, as well as hourly and salaried workers. Business partners aren’t entitled to notice.

Employment Loss
Employment loss is defined as:

  • Employment termination, other than a discharge for cause, voluntary departure, or retirement,
  • A layoff exceeding 6 months, or
  • A reduction in an employee's work hours of more than 50 percent in each month of any 6-month period.

Covered Closings
A covered closing occurs when an employment site (or one or more facilities or operating units within an employment site) will be shut down, and the shutdown will create employment loss for 50 or more covered employees during any 30-day period.

Covered Mass Layoffs
The term “mass layoff” means a reduction in force which first, is not the result of a plant closing, and second, results in an employment loss at the single site of employment during any 30-day period for:

(i) At least 33 percent of the active employees, excluding part-time employees, and

(ii) At least 50 employees, excluding part-time employees.

Where 500 or more employees (excluding part-time employees) are affected, the 33% requirement does not apply.

WARN does not apply to closure of temporary facilities or the completion of an activity when workers were hired only for that activity’s duration. WARN also provides for less than 60 days’ notice when layoffs result from a faltering company’s closure, unforeseeable business circumstances or a natural disaster.

An employer who violates the WARN provisions is liable to each employee for an amount equal to back pay and benefits for the period of the violation, up to 60 days. This may be reduced by the period of any notice given, and any voluntary payments the employer made to the employee.

An employer who fails to provide the required notice to the unit of local government is subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $500 for each day of violation. The employer may avoid this penalty by satisfying the liability to each employee within three weeks after the closing or layoff.

DEW has no administrative or enforcement responsibility under WARN and cannot provide specific advice or guidance with respect to individual situations.

The United States district courts enforce WARN requirements. Workers, representatives of employees, and units of local government may bring individual or class action suits. In any suit, the court may allow the prevailing party a reasonable attorney's fee as part of the costs.


Find specific WARN Act requirements in the act itself, Public Law 100-379 (29U.S.C.2101, et seq.).

The U.S. Department of Labor published final regulations April 20, 1989 in the Federal Register (Vol. 54, No. 75). The regulations appear at 20 CFR Part 639.

The U.S. Department of Labor has issued guides to provide workers and employers an overview of their rights and responsibilities under the WARN Act, found here

Sample WARN here.

To ensure quick receipt and response to your WARN, please email the letter to our Dislocated Worker Unit at

Mailing address:
Dislocated Worker Unit
South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce
Dislocated Worker Unit
1550 Gadsden St
Columbia, SC 29202