Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers in Dallas and across Texas have had to contend with severe economic losses. As a result of business closures and lost revenue, many employers in Dallas have had to furlough or lay off employees. We know that this is an incredibly difficult process for many employers, and we also know that it can be extremely complicated to understand the laws surrounding furloughs and layoffs. The major federal law pertaining to employment separation notice requirements is the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (or WARN Act). This is a law that requires Texas employers, as well as employers across the country, to provide certain notice to employees in the event of a business closure or a layoff. So, how does the WARN Act impact businesses in Dallas during the era of the coronavirus?
Requirements Under the WARN Act
If your Dallas business needs to lay off employers as a result of closure or economic losses, you may be required to abide by notice requirements under the WARN Act. According to the DOL, the WARN Act “requires employers to provide written notice at least 60 calendar days in advance of covered plant closings and mass layoffs.” In general, the WARN Act applies to employers with 100 or more full-time workers. It also only applies to specific categories of closures and layoffs.
Which Employees Need Notice?
If you have employees who must be laid off as a result of COVID-19 or for any other reason, the layoff fits into a covered WARN layoff, and you are a covered employer under the WARN Act, you should know that the following employees are protected by the WARN Act:
- Employees who are laid off or have their hours reduced by 50% or more in the six-month period prior to a plant closure or a mass layoff;
- Employees who may be reasonably expected to experience an employment loss due to a plant closure or mass layoff;
- Workers who are on temporary layoff and have a reasonable expectation of recall (including workers who are on FMLA leave or are obtaining temporary workers’ compensation benefits); and
- Part-time employees.
To be clear, although part-time workers are not counted for purposes of determining whether an employer has instituted a “mass layoff,” part-time workers are in fact entitled to receive the same notice as full-time workers when a plant closure or mass layoff occurs. The following workers, in general, are not protected by the WARN Act:
- Workers on strike;
- Temporary workers;
- Contract employees who are paid by another employer; and
- Government employees.
Furloughed Employees and the WARN Act?
As long as employers are furloughing workers with the intention of bringing those workers back (even if the situation ultimately does not allow it), employers are not required to provide furloughed workers notice under the WARN Act.
If the situation shifts from a furlough to a layoff, then the WARN Act requirements may apply.
Contact an Employment Lawyer in Dallas
If you have questions about your obligation to provide notice to furloughed workers, or workers who are subject to a layoff, it is extremely important to seek advice from a Dallas employment law attorney. Contact Simon Paschal PLLC today to speak with a Texas employment lawyer at our firm.