You Got a WARN Notice. Now What?

In the current economy, it’s not unheard of companies shutting down. According to a report from USA Today, the companies that closed the most stores in 2013 include major retail stores such as Best Buy, Sears, J.C. Penney, Radio Shack, Barnes & Noble, Gamestop and Office Max.

When large organizations are involved in massive layoffs, they must give their employees a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) notice. This gives employees that are laid off the opportunity to look for work and receive severance packages.

What is a WARN notice?

A WARN notice protects your rights as a worker in the event your employer has a massive layoff. Under the WARN Act, an employer must give written notice 60 days before the date of a mass layoff or plant closing to all eligible employees.

If your employer does not give you the required notice, you may be able to seek damages for back pay and benefits for up to 60 days. Additionally, your employer may agree to additional severance pay and continued health benefits in the event of a mass layoff.

Why did I get a WARN notice?

As an eligible employee, you received a WARN notice because your employer file for bankruptcy, needs to reduce the workforce or is selling the business.

Who is covered under a WARN notice?

Typically, an employee is covered under WARN if their employ has over 100 full-time employees and are planning a plant closure or massive layoff. It will include the following information:

  • An explanation of whether the layoff or closing is permanent or temporary of 6 months or less.
  • The date of layoff or closing and the date of your separation (Your employer has some leeway in predicting the dates on which workers will be separated.

When does a WARN notice become effective?

The clock starts ticking the moment you are handed the WARN notice. But keep in mind that a verbal announcement at an all-employees’ meeting does not meet the WARN Act requirements. Also, preprinted notices regularly included in each employee’s paycheck or press releases to the media do not meet the requirements.

Can I waive my right to a WARN notice?

You cannot be required to waive your right to advance notice under WARN. Usually what happens when an employer closes a facility or has a layoff, is that it will ask its employees to sign a document waiving their right to file a lawsuit against the employer.

Waiving the right to make claims against your employer means that you agree to not to sue the employer for additional financial compensation or any other benefit because of your job loss.

In most cases employees sign away their rights to sue because they are offered additional severance pay or extended health benefits. By signing the waiver voluntarily and knowingly, you may have waived any claims you have under WARN or other employment-related laws.

Where do I go for information about my WARN notice?

When WARN notices are handed out, the Human Resources department will usually handle all severance packages and questions by employees. If you are not satisfied with the answers, you can also contact an attorney specializing in labor and employment law.

The US Department of Labor can also be a resource where displaced workers can get information on job training and get more information on how the WARN Act works. More information on the WARN Act can be found at


What You Need to Know Before You Accept a Job

Sometimes you will be forced for financial reasons to take any job you can get. But as most workers know, there is a reason that those types of jobs don’t last very long. The most obvious reason is that a job taken out of desperation is not usually your dream job. In order to get your dream job, you will need to become outwardly and inwardly observant to land the job that brings you professional and personal satisfaction.

You will need to ask questions of your prospective employer and of yourself. Some of the questions you should be asking include:

Who will you report to?

It’s never a good idea to accept a job where you will be reporting to someone who seems difficult to work with or has a reputation of being unreasonable. Be sure it is clear whom you will be reporting to and whom you will receive direct orders from.

Does the job excite you?

Considering that you will spend at least 40 hours at the office, not to mention, the hours spent commuting, the job should excite you. Most people are excited by work due to good pay and a chance to use their talent on a daily basis. But what excites different people is, well as different as each of us. Make sure the job excites you, not what excites your family or friends.

What is your vibe of the organization and of its culture?

Turn the tables on your employer in a subtle way. Use your interview as the opportunity to interview the employer. Try to find out what the company is doing to ensure it will be a viable and profitable organization 5, 10 or even 15 years from now.

An equally important question is to ask how the job and department fit into the organization as a whole. You want to make sure the department you are being recruited for is planned to stay in the organization for the long run and not just a temporary division that will disappear when a project is completed.

Be sure to ask about working relationships with other departments in the company. Ask about what projects different departments have worked on together. This will help you get a sense of the atmosphere of the organization. Is it friendly and are employees helpful towards each other?

Some employers will ask what a supervisor or co-worker from a previous job may say about you. This is an excellent opportunity to ask the interviewer how current employees feel about their jobs and the company. For example, has the organization won any awards for best place to work?

This information can also be researched online and on social networks. Some ex-employees are willing to talk freely about their experience at any organization. Listen carefully, especially for several comments that have the same issue or issues come up. That can be a red flag about an employer.

Are you going to be compensated fairly?

Some say that it is not appropriate to ask what the salary is during an interview. But this is the best time to ask what type of salary structure and the benefits plan are available. Each person knows how much they need to support their lifestyle and should know what their worth is. If you are unsure how much you are worth, you should do a quick Internet search for salary calculators. You should have a good idea of your worth before you start negotiating your salary and benefits.

Is there opportunity for growth?

When a candidate asks this question, the typical response is that the organization likes to hire from within. But a savvy job seeker will dig for a more specific answer. You want to know how the company is committed to the career development and training of its employees. An employer that is truly committed will have a training plan set up and will be able to discuss in detail how and when an employee qualifies for additional training to move up the company ladder. For example, they should be able to tell you the percentage of top managers that were promoted from inside the organization.

What is being expected of you?

A job description can usually give you a good idea of what is expected of you. But it’s also a good idea to ask about other duties that may not be listed on the job posting you applied to. While most employers cannot every single thing that you will need to do, you should know of any major duties not listed that may be needed in the position.

Before accepting a job offer you need to understand your day-to-day tasks and who you will be working with. You should also be clear on the expected work hours, start date, work locations, travel required, dress code and relocation opportunities.

Do you think you will “fit in”, feel comfortable and succeed in this organization?

After getting some or most of your questions answered think about your gut feeling. Do you feel that the energy is right for you? The best jobs are usually the one you had a feeling things would work out and that you are happy with the compensation, work hours, etc.

You need to ask yourself if the position a good match for my skills, interests, aptitudes, values and long-term goals. If you are not 100% “feeling it”, then you should dig further into the company and within yourself. If you still feel something holding you back, evaluate whether it’s just cold feet or something that you cannot accept or live with.

As you can see, finding the perfect job takes time, some homework and being inquisitive. Believe it or not, employers appreciate candidates who are interested in asking questions of them. It demonstrates a sincere interest in the organization and someone who is looking for more than a paycheck.