2017 Handbook of Employment Regulations Affecting Florida Farm Employers and Workers: Plant Closing Notification / Layoffs (WARN Act) [Federal]1

Fritz Roka, Michael Olexa, Carol Fountain, and Jessica Fernandez 2


To provide employees with notification of intended layoffs or shutdown.

Program / Employer Coverage

In 1988, Congress passed the Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, also known as the Plant Closing Act. The WARN Act covers employers with one of the following:

  • 100 or more employees, excluding part-time employees

  • 100 or more employees who, in the aggregate, work at least 4,000 hours per week.

Covered employers must notify workers of intent to shut down work or discontinue employment for fifty or more workers at a single job site for a period of thirty days or more.

There are no seasonal or agricultural exemptions under the WARN Act. Seasonal agricultural workers can be exempted from the time provisions only if the workers are notified at the time of hiring that the work is temporary.

Notification Process

Employers of 100 or more workers must give at least sixty days advance notice to their employees of a plant closing or mass layoff. Employers must also notify the workers' collective bargaining agent(s) or representatives, the state dislocated workers unit, and appropriate state and local governmental agencies of closings or layoffs.


If an employer fails to provide the appropriate notification, the employer may be required to pay lost wages and benefits to all laid off employees for a period of up to sixty days.


Employer. Any business enterprise that either employs 100 or more employees, excluding part-time employees, or employs 100 or more employees who, in the aggregate, work at least 4,000 hours per week (exclusive of hours of overtime).

Plant Closing. The permanent or temporary shutdown of a single site of employment or one or more facilities or operating units within a single site of employment, if the shutdown results in an employment loss at a single site of employment during any 30-day period for 50 or more employees excluding any part-time employees.

Employment Loss. An employment termination other than a discharge for cause, voluntary departure, or retirement due to either (1) a layoff exceeding six months, or (2) a reduction in work hours of more than fifty percent during each month of any 6-month period.

Part-Time Employee. An employee who is employed for either an average of fewer than twenty hours per week or who has been employed fewer than six of the twelve months preceding the date on which notice is required.

Information Required for WARN Notice

Under the WARN Act, the notice to each affected employee who does not have a representative must contain the following information:

  • A statement as to whether the planned action is expected to be permanent or temporary.

  • If the entire plant is to be closed, a statement to that effect.

  • The expected date when the plant closing or mass layoff will commence and the expected date when the individual employees will be separated.

  • An indication of whether or not bumping rights exist.

  • The name and telephone number of a company official to contact for further information.

Joint Employment Situations

Where farm employers also have farm labor contractors (FLC), the 100-worker threshold can be breached in cases of joint employment. In this situation, the number of workers is measured by adding the number of permanent and seasonal workers directly unemployed by the farmer to the number of workers in the FLCs' crews.

Note to Seasonal Agricultural Employers

For covered agricultural employers, it is suggested that signed releases be obtained at the time of hiring, making it clear to employees that the work is seasonal in nature and that the jobs will end at the conclusion of the task (planting, harvesting, etc.).

Additional Information

  • United States Code, Title 29, Chapter 23, 2101–2109, Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification

  • Code of Federal Regulations, Title 20, Chapter V, Part 639, 639.1–639.10, Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification

Responsible Agency

United States Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20210
Toll-free 1-877-US2-JOBS (1-877-872-5627)


1. This is EDIS document FE410, a publication of the Department of Food and Resource Economics, UF/IFAS Extension. Published 2003, revised 2009 and 2017. This handbook is produced and distributed by the UF/IFAS Center for Agricultural and Natural Resource Law. Originally published by Leo Polopolus. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.
2. Fritz Roka, associate professor, Food and Resource Economics Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Southwest Florida Research and Education Center, Immokalee, FL. Michael Olexa, professor, Food and Resource Economics Department, and director, Center for Agricultural and Natural Resource Law UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL. Carol Fountain, editor, Food and Resource Economics Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL. Jessica Fernandez, graduate student, Levin College of Law, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.

This document is designed to provide accurate, current, and authoritative information on the subject. However, since the laws, administrative rulings, and court decisions on which it is based are subject to constant revision, portions of this publication could become outdated at any time. This publication is distributed with the understanding that the authors are not engaged in rendering legal or other professional advice, and the information contained herein should not be regarded as a substitute for professional advice. For these reasons, the utilization of these materials by any person constitutes an agreement to hold harmless the authors, the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and the University of Florida for any liability claims, damages, or expenses that may be incurred by any person as a result of reference to or reliance on the information contained in this publication.