California Governor Issues Important Executive Order Relaxing CA WARN Requirements During COVID-19 State of Emergency

Alerts / March 19, 2020

On March 18, 2020, California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-31-20 (the Order), relaxing the requirements of the California Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (CA WARN) during pendency of the state of emergency that was declared in California on March 4, 2020.

The Order specifically suspends the 60-day notice requirement of CA WARN under Labor Code Sections 1401(a), 1402 and 1403 for an employer that orders a mass layoff, termination or relocation at a covered establishment, on the condition that the employer:

  1. Still gives CA WARN notice to the appropriate employees and entities as per Labor Code Section 1401(a)-(b);
  2. Gives as much notice as is practicable and, at the time notice is given, provides a brief statement of the basis for reducing the notification period;
  3. Orders such a mass layoff, relocation or termination due to COVID-19-related “business circumstances that were not reasonably foreseeable as of the time that notice would have been required”; and
  4. Includes the following statement on the written notice: “If you have lost your job or been laid off temporarily, you may be eligible for Unemployment Insurance (UI). More information on UI and other resources for workers is available at”

The Order also states that by March 23, 2020, the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency will provide guidance to the public regarding how the Order will be implemented.

While this Order provides some important relief to employers that have had to move quickly to keep up with the business impacts of COVID-19, given that the governor’s Order still requires CA WARN notices to be sent out “as soon as practicable,” the burden on employers has not been completely lifted during this time when employers have limited resources to comply.

If you need assistance preparing compliant CA WARN notices or other assistance navigating HR issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, our California Labor and Employment Practice Group team members are available to assist you.

Authorship credit: Annette Winters, Shareef Farag and Sabrina Shadi

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