In January we told you about some expansive changes to the NJ WARN Act which were set to go into effect this summer. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the New Jersey Legislature and Governor Murphy have provided New Jersey employers some NJ WARN ACT/ COVID-19 relief. Under Senate bill 2353, which Governor Phil Murphy signed into law on April 14, 2020, the effective date of the amendments to the NJ WARN Act have been delayed from July 19, 2020 to 90 days after the governor’s stay-at-home executive order ends. This is important for New Jersey employers because events that trigger the NJ WARN Act will not be subject to the more stringent requirements of the amended NJ WARN Act until a later date.
This law also amended the definition of “mass layoff” to exclude layoffs that occur due to a “national emergency.” What does this mean for NJ employers and COVID-19? Layoffs due to national emergencies, including the COVID-19 crisis, do not trigger the NJ WARN Act. Prior to this amendment, the “national emergency” exception only applied to a “termination of operations.”
This change is retroactive to March 9, 2020, so that COVID-19 layoffs that occurred on and after that date are excluded from the definition of “mass layoff.”