Sending Office: Honorable Tim Ryan
Fair Warning Act of 2019, H.R. 5205
To strengthen the enforcement of current law and close loopholes in existing Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) requirements
Co-sponsors: Trone*, Wild, Jackson Lee, Nadler, Holmes Norton, Suozzi, Levin, Tlaib, Pocan, Hayes
Endorsed by: AFL-CIO, National Employment Law Project (NELP)
* Original Co-sponsor
Congress passed the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act in 1988 to give workers and communities 60 days advance notice to an impending site closing or mass layoff (29 USC Ch.23). Site closings and mass layoffs have traumatic impacts on
workers, as well as their families, communities, and nearby businesses. Compelling evidence demonstrates that retraining and other readjustment efforts have the greatest success and impacts can be lessened when advance notice is provided.
However, the effectiveness of the existing WARN Act has been undermined by loopholes and weak enforcement. For example, a GAO report in 2003 reported that the WARN Act covered only 24% of all layoffs, mostly due to limitations in the current law. Also, employers
did not notify workers in two-thirds of the layoffs and closures where the WARN Act applied because the law includes several exceptions that the employers can invoke. Weak enforcement of workers’ rights in the current law also encourages businesses to continue
finding ways to get around this law.
To address these shortcomings and support workers’ rights, we introduced
H.R. 5205, the Fair Warning Act of 2019, to strengthen Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) requirements. Important changes are proposed in the areas of (1) notifications before site closings and mass layoffs, and (2)
administration and enforcement of the requirements.
Specifically, the Fair Warning Act of 2019:
- Redefines the terms “affected employee,” “employer,” “site closing,” “mass layoff,” and “employment loss” for purposes of the Act,
- Requires an employer to give 90-day (increased from 60-day) written notice to employees and appropriate state and local governments before ordering a site closing or mass layoff,
- Applies the requirements to employers of 50 or more employees (reduced from 100 employees), including any parent company of which the business is a subsidiary,
- Lowers the mass layoff thresholds for triggering these requirements,
- Requires an employer to notify the U.S. Secretary of Labor and the governor of the state in which the closing or layoff will occur, with the Secretary subsequently required to inform corresponding Congressional offices,
- Grants the U.S. Secretary of Labor authority to investigate and respond to complaints,
- Requires an employer to provide affected employees with information about the employee’s rights and the benefits and services available to them, including unemployment compensation, COBRA health benefits, and onsite access to rapid response teams, and
- Increases the penalties for employer violations of these requirements.
To co-sponsor H.R. 5205, the Fair Warning Act of 2019, please contact Sarah Theohares (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Kevin Jurrens in Rep. Ryan’s office (5-5261,
email@example.com) or Jessica Semachko in Rep. Trone’s office (5-2721,
Tim Ryan David Trone
Member of Congress Member of Congress
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