While a layoff at your place of employment may not be permanent, there is the potential it could be. Even so, the law does regulate layoffs to ensure fairness because you are still losing your job and income.
According to the Code of Federal Regulations, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act seeks to provide some protection to you when your employer wants to lay you off.
The main purpose of WARN is to give you notice of a layoff before it happens. In other words, your employer cannot call you into a meeting and lay you off without any warning it was going to happen. WARN requires your employer to provide you with a 60-day notice.
WARN only affects those employers with at least 100 employees. It also only applies in specific situations that meet the definitions of a mass layoff or plant closing. If you are the only person or among a small group of people who lose their jobs, then the law is not relevant.
If 33% or more of the employees will be part of the layoff or the employer will stop operations for at least 30 days for at least 50 employees, then your employer must provide notice under the WARN Act.
As with all laws, there are exceptions to the rules of WARN, but giving written notice of a layoff is a generally good employment practice that employers should consider regardless of the situation. In any case, if WARN applies and your employer fails to give notice, you may have a civil action against the employer.