State WARN Act may be watered down

The state’s WARN Act — two years old and only used once to no effect — may be rolled back a bit.The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, enacted in 2009, was supposed to go above and beyond the federal WARN act, which was passed a little more than a decade earlier, by forcing New Hampshire employers who are laying off large numbers of employees to give sufficient notice or face fines.While the federal act applied to business with over 100 employees or more, the state act lowered the threshold to 75, over the opposition of business. On Tuesday, business was back, and labor – on record as opposing the bill — was absent, perhaps realizing that it faced a losing battle.The argument, put forth by bill sponsor Sen. Jim Luther, R-Hollis, as well Chris Williams, president of the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce, was the same as two years ago. No other nearby state enacted a lower threshold than called for in the federal law, and it put New Hampshire at an economic disadvantage.Indeed, said Williams, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce “docked” New Hampshire for its tough WARN Act law in assessing the state’s its regulatory environment, which one survey indicated was more important to businesses than the state’s vaunted quality of life, Williams said.Other aspects of the law will remain in place. The state can place liens on companies, and it would still apply to layoffs of 25 or more employees, as compared to the federal law, which covers layoffs of 50 or more. — BOB SANDERS/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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