Written Notice of a Business (Plant) Closing or Mass Layoff

Overview

With certain exceptions, businesses employing 50 or more persons in the State of Wisconsin must provide written notice 60 days before implementing a "business (plant) closing" or "mass layoff" in the state.

Notice and WARN Requirements

The notice requirement is similar to, but not the same as, notice requirements under the federal Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification ("WARN") Act.

Employers must comply with both laws if they both apply.

Filing a Business (Plant) Closing and Mass Layoff Complaint

Business (Plant) Closing and Mass Layoff Complaint Form (ERD-9646-E)

Frequently Asked Questions:

Are there exceptions to the law?

The business closing and mass layoff law does not apply to:

  • the federal or state government (or their political subdivisions),
  • or charitable or tax exempt institutions

Additional exceptions exist in various situations involving:

  • strikes or lockouts,
  • sales,
  • relocations,
  • temporary or seasonal employment,
  • unforeseeable circumstances,
  • natural or man-made disasters,
  • temporary cessation of operation,
  • financial difficulties, but only if the employer believes in good faith that notice would have prevented the employer from obtaining necessary capital or business in order to avoid layoffs.

What employees are counted as "affected" by a business closing or mass layoff?

Employees are counted if their employment is terminated (not including discharges for cause, voluntary departures, or retirements), if they are laid off for more than 6 months, or if their hours are reduced more than 50 percent during each month of any 6-month period as the result of a "business closing" or "mass layoff."

What is a "business closing" (plant closing)?

A "business closing" requires notice if it involves a permanent or temporary shutdown of an employment site or of one or more facilities or operating units within a single municipality that affects 25 or more employees (not including "new or low-hour employees").

What is a "mass layoff"?

A "mass layoff" requires notice if there is a reduction in the workforce that is not a "business closing" and which affects the following number of employees (excluding "new or low-hour employees") at an employment site or within a single municipality: At least 25% of the workforce or 25 employees, whichever is greater; or at least 500 employees.

Who is a "new or low-hour employee"?

"New" employees are those who have been employed for fewer than 6 of the 12 months preceding the date on which a notice is required. "Low-hour" employees are those who average fewer than 20 hours of work per week.

Who must receive notice?

Employers who have decided on a business closing or mass layoff must provide written notice to:

  1. The Department of Workforce Development, Dislocated Workers Unit, PO Box 7972, Madison, Wisconsin 53707;
  2. Any affected employee (including new or low-hour employees);
  3. Any collective bargaining unit representative of any affected employee; and
  4. The highest official of the municipality in which the affected employment site is located.

What can employees recover if notice is required but not given?

If an employer does not provide notice as required, affected employees may recover back pay and benefits for each day that required notice was not provided, up to a maximum of 60 days. Affected employees, collective bargaining unit representatives, and municipal officials who did not receive required notice may file a complaint (see below) with the Equal Rights Division within 300 days of the closing or mass layoff.

Get a copy of the Business (Plant) Closing and Mass Layoff Complaint Form(ERD-9646-E)

What are the law's posting requirements?

Each business employing 50 or more persons in the State of Wisconsin shall post, in one or more conspicuous places where notices to employees are customarily posted, a notice in a form approved by the department setting forth employees' rights under this section. Any employer who violates posting requirements shall forfeit not more than $100.

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