What Notice Must an Employer Provide for Layoffs?

Job Terminations Are Not All Covered by Employment Law

Layoffs and job terminations are never happy but deadlines for employers exist in only a few cases.
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Question: What Notice Must an Employer Provide for Layoffs or Job Termination?

Employers have a variety of responsibilities to their employees. But employment termination is not an area that the Federal government legislates except in a few instances. Need to understand how much warning an employer needs to provide an employee in a variety of termination scenarios? Read on.


Job Termination

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has no requirements for notice to an employee prior to the termination of his or her job. No matter the reason for the termination, the employer can ask the employee to work for several days, but it is more likely that the day of termination is the employee’s last day.

To avoid lawsuits and to be fair to the employee and employer, if you fire an employee, make sure that your path to termination has been ethical, legal, and thoughtful. I have covered how to fire an employee in detail in:

In an employee firing, it is normal for the employer to walk the employee out of the workplace after helping retrieve his or her belongings. If an employee does not want to return to the work area, the employer can make arrangements to meet the employee after work. So, in the instance of a firing, the employee would receive no notice.


In a layoff situation, in some cases, employers must give employees advanced notice of mass layoffs or a plant closure. The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (the WARN Act) requires 60 days written notice of the intention to lay off more than 50 employees during any 30-day period as part of a plant closing.

Additionally, the WARN Act requires employers to give notice of any mass layoff, that does not result from a plant closing, but will result in an employment loss of 500 or more employee jobs during any 30-day period. The Act also covers employment loss for 50-499 employees if they make up at least 33% of the employer's active workforce.

In a layoff situation that is not covered by the WARN Act, the employer is not required by Federal law to give any notice. Situations vary. If the reason for the layoff is economic, employees will usually experience immediate employment termination.

In other circumstances such as the elimination of a department or function, employees may be asked to stay on for weeks, or even months, with the promise of bonuses and employment recommendations for an orderly shutdown or transfer of responsibilities.

More About Layoffs

In all cases, please check with your state or governmental authorities at your equivalent to the U.S. Department of Labor. Notification rules may vary by state or jurisdiction. In the case of layoffs, always work with an attorney who specializes in employment law from your region.

Some states may have requirements for employee notification prior to a job termination or layoffs.


Susan Heathfield makes every effort to offer accurate, common-sense, ethical Human Resources management, employer, and workplace advice both on this website, and linked to from this website, but she is not an attorney, and the content on the site, while authoritative, is not guaranteed for accuracy and legality, and is not to be construed as legal advice.

The site has a world-wide audience and employment laws and regulations vary from state to state and country to country, so the site cannot be definitive on all of them for your workplace. When in doubt, always seek legal counsel or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources, to make certain your legal interpretation and decisions are correct. The information on this site is for guidance, ideas, and assistance only.