Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Employers’ Guide in Legally Laying Off Employees in California

Deciding to lay off some of your employees is definitely a difficult decision to do. It is a tough situation to be in, especially if you know that the workers you are about to let go are long ways to go before they are hired by their new employers. Aside from that, doing so is already a hard one, especially that layoffs are governed under the prevailing federal and California employment and labor laws.

Being an employer covered by such laws, it is important that you are aware whether your decision to lay off some of your employees duly violates any legal standards, especially if you operate your business in California. You wouldn’t want to face a wrongful termination lawsuit from a discontented former employee whom you’ve included in your mass layoff, right?

The Legal Ways of Laying Off Employees in California

To better understand what you need to do in case you plan to lay off a group of employees, here is a guide on how you can do so legally in the State of California:

•    Before anything else, retain a good business law attorney first. He or she will surely help you give sound legal advice to help protect you from any lawsuits that may hit you along the way, especially in your decision to lay off employees.

•    When announcing layoffs, it is imperative that you provide proper notice. Under the California Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), you must do so within 30 days before the layoff date, as opposed to the federal WARN wherein notices must be given 60 days prior. If you decide on a “mass layoff,” the state law states that you can lay off at least 50 employees, either full-time or part-time. If you want to include some of the latter, make sure that they have worked six of the previous 12 months.

•    At the day of the layoff, ensure that their final payments—accrued vacation leaves, bonuses, and other due wages—must be forwarded to them during that day or the day after.

•    Very important: keep employee records. For every employee you laid off, it is important that you preserve a detailed paper trail as to the circumstances of the layoff and the courses of action you took to arrive at such decision. This will help you a lot if one of them decides to sue you.

Always keep in mind to uphold the rights of the employees you are about to lay off, especially when it comes to their final pay and other compensations. More importantly, you must carefully plan out your layoffs as dictated by the California employment laws to prevent you from facing discrimination or other labor-related lawsuits.


  1. The most popular issue that most companies are encountering is lay off. There are some legalities that you need to know concerning this matter. It is best to get an employment legal advise before you decide in terminating an employee.

  2. That is just a very well said Aiyana! In order to get a definite answer on any of your questions regarding the legality of your lay off(just in case) you have to consult from your legal adviser. This is for you to be sure that you get an accurate advice and also to move further if in case there is somewhat an illegality on the problem you just have encountered. Thanks for leaving a comment in here by the way!

    Feel free to follow us on twitter for more employment law articles, @MesrianiLaw


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