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Business closing or mass layoff


With certain exceptions, businesses employing 50 or more persons in the State of Wisconsin must provide written notice 60 days before implementing a business or plant closing or mass layoff in the state.

Notice and Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification (WARN) Act Requirements

The notice requirement under Wisconsin law is similar to the notice requirements under the federal Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification (WARN) Act.

You must comply with both laws if they both apply.

Frequently Asked Questions

What qualifies as a business or plant closing?

A business or plant closing is the permanent or temporary shutdown of an employment site or of one or more facilities or operating units within a single municipality that affects 25 or more employees, not including new or low hour employees.

Workforce Size Written Notice Required
24 or fewer employees not including new or low hour employees No
25 or more employees not including new or low hour employees Yes

What qualifies as a mass layoff?

A mass layoff is a reduction in the workforce which affects at least 25% of the workforce or 25 employees (whichever is greater) or at least 500 employees, not including new or low hour employees.

Workforce Size No. of Employees Laid Off Written Notice Required

Which employees do I count as "affected" by a business closing or mass layoff?

Employees are counted if their employment is terminated (not including discharges for cause, voluntary departures, or retirements), if they are laid off for more than 6 months, or if their hours are reduced more than 50 percent during each month of any 6-month period as the result of a "business closing" or "mass layoff."

Who is a "new or low-hour employee"?

"New" employees are those who have been employed for fewer than 6 of the 12 months preceding the date on which a notice is required. "Low-hour" employees are those who average fewer than 20 hours of work per week.

Are there exceptions to the law?

The business closing and mass layoff law does not apply to:

Additional exceptions exist in various situations involving:

Who must receive notice?

If you have decided on a business closing or mass layoff you must provide written notice to:

  1. The Department of Workforce Development, Dislocated Workers Unit,;
  2. Any affected employee (including new or low-hour employees);
  3. Any collective bargaining unit representative of any affected employee; and
  4. The highest official of the municipality in which the affected employment site is located.

What can employees recover if notice is required but not given?

If you do not provide notice as required, affected employees may recover back pay and benefits for each day that required notice was not provided, up to a maximum of 60 days. Affected employees, collective bargaining unit representatives, and municipal officials who did not receive required notice may file a complaint (see below) with the Equal Rights Division within 300 days of the closing or mass layoff.

Filing a Business (plant) Closing and Mass Layoff Complaint

Business (Plant) Closing and Mass Layoff Complaint Form (ERD-9646-E)

What are the law's posting requirements?

If you employe 50 or more persons in the State of Wisconsin you shall post, in one or more conspicuous places where notices to employees are customarily posted, a notice in a form approved by the department setting forth employees' rights under this section. Any employer who violates posting requirements shall forfeit not more than $100.

For more information