Dislocated Workers:

Worker Adjustment And Retraining Notification Act Not Meeting Its Goals

HRD-93-18: Published: Feb 23, 1993. Publicly Released: Feb 23, 1993.


Carlotta C. Joyner
(202) 512-7002


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a legislative requirement and congressional requests, GAO provided information on the implementation of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), focusing on: (1) the number of closures and layoffs that were subject to WARN provisions; (2) whether employers are providing advance notice as required; (3) WARN implementation and enforcement difficulties; and (4) employer and employee views on the impact of WARN notices.

GAO found that: (1) employers were more likely to give their employees the required 60-day notice of plant closures or layoffs after enactment of WARN; (2) 64 percent of the major layoffs were exempt from WARN notice requirements because they did not affect at least one-third of the workforce; (3) many employers failed to adequately provide workers with advance closure or layoff notices or filed WARN notices late; and (4) some employers did not include the necessary notice information required by the Department of Labor (DOL); (5) although there was evidence of WARN violations, workers have filed few lawsuits because of the added cost, limited incentives, and uncertain outcomes; (6) although DOL and state dislocation agencies have attempted to clarify any confusion regarding WARN implementation regulations, many employers remain confused or unaware about the application of WARN provisions; and (7) WARN advance notices have enabled workers to find new jobs sooner and plan for impending layoffs, and did not significantly increase employers' costs or decrease worker productivity.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Matter for Congressional Consideration

    Matter: Given the large number of closures and layoffs for which employers did not provide advance notice even when the event appeared to meet the WARN criteria, Congress may wish to consider giving the Department of Labor the specific responsibility and authority for enforcing the law's provisions.

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congress has not acted on this 1993 recommendation.

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