Now that we’ve defined Rapid Response, discussed its purpose, and described the circumstances under which Rapid Response must be provided, let’s take a closer look at one of the big changes to Rapid Response under the WIOA regulations from WIA: the definition of “mass layoff” as it applies to the Rapid Response program.


Here is how the regulation at §682.305 reads:  

For the purposes of rapid response, the term ‘‘mass layoff’’ used throughout this subpart will have occurred when at least one of the following conditions have been met:


(a) A layoff meets the State’s definition of mass layoff, as long as the definition does not exceed a minimum threshold of 50 affected workers;

(b) Where a State has not defined a minimum threshold for mass layoff meeting the requirements of paragraph (a) of this section, layoffs affecting 50 or more workers; or

(c) When a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act notice has been filed, regardless of the number of workers affected by the layoff announced.


Before we describe each of the elements above, we should clarify once again that this definition of mass layoff applies ONLY to the Rapid Response program. It is not applicable, for example, to determining whether a layoff would be eligible for National Dislocated Worker Grant funding.


The first, and most appropriate option, is for a state to define the term using a minimum threshold that makes the most sense for that state. This threshold can be as low as 1 impacted worker. Or it can be as high as 50 impacted workers. The threshold in the state’s definition, however, MAY NOT exceed 50 impacted workers.


States are not required to create such a definition; however, should a state choose not to set a threshold layoff number as part of a definition, a layoff of 50 or more workers will be considered a mass layoff for which Rapid Response services must be delivered in that state.


And finally, receipt of a WARN Notice announcing a layoff of any size will be treated as a mass layoff for which Rapid Response services must be delivered.


One final note on this topic—“mass layoff” is only one of the criteria for which Rapid Response is REQUIRED to be delivered—states are always encouraged to ensure delivery of Rapid Response in as many circumstances as possible for the biggest benefits to both affected workers and businesses.


What are your thoughts on this definition? Share in the Comments section!