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Assemblyman Matt Haney (Photo: a17.asmdc.org)

Bill Requires More Notice From Companies Before Mass Layoffs

Boost in support comes after Meta’s mass layoff announcement on Tuesday

By Evan Symon, March 15, 2023 5:01 pm

A bill that would require larger companies to give at least 90 days notice before a mass layoff is about to happen and add more protections for those workers under contract received a large jump of support on Wednesday following Meta’s announcement earlier this week that they would be laying 10,000 people off starting as soon as late April.

Assembly Bill 1356, authored by Assemblyman Matt Haney (D-San Francisco), would specifically require 90 days notice for all companies with more than 50 people before a layoff takes effect. An employee working with the employer through a labor contractor and affected by a mass layoff would also be compensated for the remainder of the contract or by 90 days, whichever is fewer, by the equivalent of the pay and benefits received by the employee during the last month of employment.

In addition, AB 1356 would prohibit an employer from utilizing compliance with the act in connection with a severance agreement and waiver of an employee’s right to claims. The bill, also known as the Protect Laid-Off Workers Act, would also provide that any general release, waiver of claims, or non-disparagement or nondisclosure agreement that is made a condition of the payment of amounts for which the employer is liable is void as a matter of law and against public policy. It would also prohibit an employer who is required to give notice from offering an employee a separate agreement that includes a general release, waiver of claims, or non-disparagement or nondisclosure agreement, unless the agreement is offered in exchange for reasonable consideration that is in addition to anything of value to which the individual already is entitled. Essentially, companies would no longer be able to tie severance pay to non-disparagement agreements.

AB 1356 was originally written as a response against the mass Twitter layoffs that occurred in November of last year. For many working there, they had received little notice and did not get their severance packages until 2023. In order to get that money, employees had to waive their right to sue Twitter, help in any legal case against Twitter, or speak negatively against CEO Elon Musk, the company, or management within Twitter.

AB 1356 gains support

Many more companies had mass layoffs in late 2022 to the present, with many also giving short notice or tying severance pay to non-disparagement agreements. Fueled by this, Assemblyman Haney introduced the bill last month.

“Innovative industries like tech are a critical part of our state’s economy, and we know that tech companies start here and grow here because of our highly skilled workforce,” said  Assemblyman Haney in a statement after introducing the bill. “This bill is about protecting that workforce, from the engineers to the janitors, and making sure they’re treated fairly during a job transition. To be pro tech, we have to be pro tech-worker.”

While the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act already requires 60 days notice of a layoff for small companies and gives penalties to companies doing that 30 days to pay compensation, the mass layoffs in Silicon Valley popularized even stricter proposed regulations.

So far, AB 1356 has not even gone through a committee yet in the Assembly. Currently, it is scheduled to go through the Labor and Employment committee, as well as the Judicial committee, soon. Until Tuesday, support for the bill had also been decent, with the TechEquity Collaborative, California Labor Federation, National Employment Law Project, California Employment Lawyers Association and Alphabet Workers Union-CWA all backing it along with several lawmakers.  However, the mass layoffs at Meta on Tuesday, in which 10,000 employees were laid-off and another 5,000 positions were to go unfilled, greatly boosted support for the bill, giving AB 1356 an even better shot at passage later this year.

“Every mass layoff seems to bring this bill back into the forefront,” explained “Dana”, a staffer at the Capitol building, to the Globe on Friday. “It’s not that every layoff would be affected by the bill, but enough would, and so many people in the tech industry are tired on being on pins and needles since October. These are tens of thousands of people. You better believe that lawmakers are hearing about it here. I mean, Haney, a San Francisco Assemblymember, wrote the bill.

“And yeah, the past few days have brought in a lot of calls and emails from concerned people. And another wave will come with each big  layoff. People want this change that the bill gives.”

AB 1356 is expected to be heard in the Assembly soon.

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2 thoughts on “Bill Requires More Notice From Companies Before Mass Layoffs

  1. Leftist Democrats like Assemblyman Matt Haney are the reason that employers are laying off employees and fleeing California? He’s a failed lawyer who has never run a business. He has gone from one political position to another beginning on the SF School Board, then to the SF Board of Supervisors, and now the State Assembly in the 17th District. He’s also senior counsel for #cut50, a nonprofit he co-founded. Democrats are always at the public trough enriching themselves?

  2. Any employer who foolishly sets up business in California as long as the Marxist Democrat cabal are in complete control get what they deserve?

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