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Essential Elements of a Cal-WARN Act Letter and Notice to the State

The COVID-19 pandemic has shuttered businesses and as a result many California employers are currently in a position where they are forced to lay off their workforce.  Even though Governor Newsom issued an executive order on March 17, 2020 in attempt to relieve employers of the 60 day notice requirement, employers conducting a “mass layoff” as defined by the Cal-WARN Act (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act Notice) are still required to provide a letter with specific elements to affected employees; and provide notice to the State and Local field offices.  If you are unsure if the Cal-WARN Act or Federal WARN Act applies to your business, please contact an attorney.

A mass layoff under Cal-WARN means a layoff during any 30-day period of 50 or more employees at a covered establishment. (Cal. Lab. Code 1400 (d))  The California definition of mass layoff does not differentiate a “single site” instead it uses the term “covered establishment” which is any industrial or commercial facility or part thereof that employs, or has employed within the preceding 12 months, 75 or more persons.  (Cal. Lab. Code 1400 (a)). 

Notice to Employees

  1. Contact Information
    1. The name and address of the employment site(s) where the plant closing or mass layoff will occur;
    2. The name and telephone number of a company official to contact for further information;
  2. Statements of Information
    1. Provide a brief statement to explain why the employer cannot provide the typical 60-days of notice, i.e. due to Shelter in Place there is no business, or business is reduced;
    2. Whether or not Bumping Rights exist;
    3. Explain whether the planned action is expected to be permanent or temporary (if temporary provide a date the business expects to determine a right to return to work); and
    4. If the entire plant is to be closed, include a statement to that effect.
  3. Timeline
    1. Provide the expected date when the mass layoff will commence or if it already occurred the date it occurred; and
    2. The expected date when the individual employee will be separated.
  4. Mandatory Statement about Unemployment Insurances and Link to LWDA website
    1. The letter must include the following statement: “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 available for workers is available at”

Employer Notice to State & Local Officials Of Lay Offs

At the time of notice to the employees, notice should also be sent to the EDD and Local Workforce Development Board and Chief Elected Officials must include each of the above 4 items and the following:

  1. Job Titles of Positions Affected
    1. The job titles of the positions to be affected with the number of employees to be laid off in each job classification
  2. Timeline
    1. The expected date of the first separation and the anticipated schedule for subsequent separations
  3. Union Information
    1. If applicable, name each union representing affected employees;
    2. Name and address of the chief elected officer of each union

Optional Information to Include in a Cal-WARN Act Letter

An employer may choose to include additional information that is useful to affected employees, such as, if the planned action is expected to be temporary, and the estimated duration if known. 

Method of Delivery

Employers can send the notice to employees through any reasonable method of delivery to ensure the recipient receives the notice, including email.   The notice to the state and local authorities is more specific, for the EDD it must be emailed to

For the Local LWDA it is county specific and the applicable local official is listed here:

Contact Us for More Information

If you need advice or have any questions, please contact our knowledgeable and experienced Employment Law attorneys at Berliner Cohen or reach out to a member of our COVID19 Task Force Team at