New York lawmakers are working to protect employees from losing their jobs without warning.

Senator Chuck Schumer (D) has introduced the new "Fair Warning Act of 2019" which he says would put an end to surprise layoffs for many workers.

This comes just seven months after several Friendly's restaurants in upstate New York closed without prior notice.

Schumer says the bill would close a loophole in the WARN Act which allows smaller companies to avoid notifying employees of closings and layoffs.

Specifically the legislation would:

  • Lower the WARN compliance threshold from 100 employees to 50 employees, and create a requirement that any company with $2 million in payroll must abide by the WARN Act.
  • Define a site closing as a shutdown that results in an employment loss of 5 or more during a 30-day period.
  • Define a mass layoff as a reduction of force 10 employees at a single site during a 90-day period or any layoff  that impacts 250 total employees within an organization, regardless of how many of the layoffs happen at an individual site.
  • Eliminate the distinction between part time and full time employees under the WARN Act. Right now, only full time employees trigger WARN Act protections. The Fair Warning Act of 2019 would change that and ensure that state rapid response teams are better notified to connect with affected employees.
  • Create an enforcement mechanism which holds bad actors liable back pay and benefits for each calendar day of WARN violations.

Schumer urged his colleagues in Congress to pass the legislation as soon as possible to ensure that similar abrupt layoffs don't happen again.