Navigating the WARN Act California

Feb 14, 2024
9 mins to read
Navigating the WARN Act California

Navigating difficult legal terms might be scary, educate yourself on the WARN Act California with this simply put-together summary.


The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification popularly referred to as the WARN Act is a U.S. labor law enacted to protect employees from unsanctioned layoffs, plant relocations and closures. In this blog, we will discuss the protections outlined under the state of California, some exceptions to the law, and how to file a claim. 

California WARN Act Requirements 

To understand the nitty gritty of the California WARN Act, a good suggestion is to section it out into subcategories. Below, we have partitioned the California requirements into frequently asked questions to allow you to navigate your concerns with ease. 

Who Does the WARN Act Affect? 

The WARN Act in the State of California is only applicable to ‘covered establishments’. This refers to establishments with 75 or more full and part-time employees in the 12 months preceding the notice of the layoff, closure or relocation. 

Employees are furthermore required to have been employed for a minimum of six months as per the required notice date. 

When is a company required to give notice? 

Layoffs of a minimum of 50 employees within a 30-day period regardless of the percentage of the workforce must post notice.

Plan closures and relocation of at least 100 miles affecting any number of employees equally must post notice. 

Where is the Notice Posted?

California requires stipulated establishments to not only post their notices to the state-dislocated worker unit but also to the local workforce development board and the chief elected official of each city and county government within which the termination, relocation or mass layoff occurs. 

California provides a list of company notices on its website

When is the Notice Posted?

The California WARN Act requires a 60-day notice.

Exceptions to the California WARN Act

In addition to understanding the requirements behind the California WARN Act, it is important to be cognisant of its exclusions. 

Short-Term Contracted Projects

The WARN Act does not apply to projects or undertakings that exclusively bind the employee to the company until the completion of the project. Upon completion of the project, the employee is subject to termination without the need for notice. This is especially in regard to Wage Orders 11, 12 or 16 that regulate industries in motion Picture, construction, drilling, logging and mining. 

Seasonal Employment 

Employees hired under the understanding that their employment is seasonal or temporary are exempted from notice requirements.

Physical Calamity or Act of War 

Mass layoffs, relocations or plan closures caused due to physical calamities or an act of war do not require notice.

Capital or Business Pursuits 

Under multiple and specific conditions a notice of relocation or termination is not required if the employer submits documents to the Department of Industrial Relations that prove the employer was actively seeking capital or business. This is because a WARN notice may have impacted their search for capital or business. 

Violation Penalties

If an establishment is found to be non-compliant, employees are eligible to be paid back at the given employee’s final rate or 3-year average rate of compensation. The final rate of pay refers to the rate at which an employee's earnings were determined during the 12-month period preceding their official retirement date. California stipulates the employee will be paid according to the higher option. There is additionally a possible civil penalty of $500 a day for each violation. 

The employer is further liable for any medical expenses that would have been covered under the employed health benefits plan. 

Employers are liable based on the smaller period between 60 days and half the number of days the employee was employed. 

Filing a WARN Act Violation Claim in California

It is important to utilize the laws provided to us by our respective states. If you feel are though your rights under the WARN have been violated, begin the process of filing a claim. Ensure to collect evidence that clearly outlines how your employer has failed to comply with the WARN Act requirements. If you feel unsure or uncertain, it is wise to contact a legal professional to guide you with your journey. 


The state of California has expanded on the initial Federal WARN Act to provide additional coverage to its residents. It is important to take advantage of these resources and educate yourself on your rights. And as always remember knowing your rights is taking back your power.

Ruby Janira
Ruby Janira

Ruby is a Marketing and Content Intern at Litespace. She is eager to apply her background in communications to transform thoughts into words and ideas into engaging narratives.

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