There are many reasons why an organization may need to close a plant, ranging from financial hardship, bankruptcy, or even a pivot away from producing certain goods. No matter the reason, though, HR and upper management will always need to notify staff members of the upcoming closure. This is where a plant closing notice comes into play.
In this blog, we will look at how a typical plant closing notice is structured so that you can make a letter that accurately explains what is happening to those impacted.
Let’s jump right in. If you’d like to check out a sample plant closing notice, you can download ours here:
What Is a Plant Closing Notice?
A plant closing notice is a lot like a reduction in force letter, which is a document sent to staff members explaining that the plant that they work at is going to cease business operation in the near future.
The document should say why the plant is closing, what the next steps are, what benefits will be extended to the staff members (if they are being laid off), and things of the nature.
Though this seems like the plant closing notice is full of details, it is not. This letter is a very simple, high-level announcement that really just breaks the news.
In order to explain all of the necessary details, you should also hold a layoff or RIF meeting with the individuals that are impacted. In this meeting, you will go over severance benefits, how they will be paid their last paycheck, how outplacement services will work, and a bunch of other things while also fielding any questions the employee may have.
One of the most important things to consider when reducing your workforce at any level - even with a plant closing - is to be transparent and honest, and that all starts with crafting a well-rounded plant closing notice to alerts the staff of the upcoming change.
How to Write a Plant Closing Notice: Step One
Before we start there are few things we have to mention. One is that not all plant closings are the same. The letter we are using as an example here today will be focused on a plant closing due to financial hardship/bankruptcy. The second is that there are laws and regulations that dictate how companies handle a mass layoff, which a plant closing typically falls into.
One of the biggest concerns during a mass layoff or plant closing is whether or not your organization has to comply to the WARN Act.
You can learn everything about the WARN Act here, and download our guide here:
As with any sort of reduction event, always work closely with your legal team to ensure that you are following all local, state, and federal laws. The last thing you want is to wind up in court because of an oversight. We are not lawyers and nothing in this article constitutes legal advice.
Now, with all of that out of the way, let’s get into the letter itself.
The first step in writing any reduction in force letter - including a plant closing notice - is to address the employee by name.
A simple: “Dear [INSERT NAME]” works for this case.
Then, you can start to break the news by saying right off the bat what is happening. Do not try to make small talk, don’t talk about the weather or the game last night. This letter is never going to be easy to read so don’t try to walk around the issue at hand. Just get right into it.
This section of the plant closing notice can look like this:
“For the last several months, [ORGANIZATION NAME] has experienced financial difficulties due to economic changes within our industry. In the past years we have taken action to adapt to this new market with our product and process. Unfortunately, this action has not increased profitability.”
As you can see, you are slowly breaking the news that their plant is closing by first explaining and showing the reason why. This section of the letter needs to be customized to actually state the reason for the plant closing as it pertains to your organization.
After that, you are ready for the middle of the letter.
Writing a Plant Closing Notice: The Middle
The middle of the letter is all about actually getting down to the core message: the plant is closing.
This section of the plant closing notice can look something like this:
“Due to this climate, we have come to the decision to close [INSERT PLANT NAME/ADDRESS] effective [DATE]. Our other plants at [ADDRESS] will remain open.”
This section is simple and to the point. You say that the plant is closing and, if there are other plants, you give word of their fate, too. You also explain the timeline.
Next, you need to say whether or not the people who work at the plant are getting placed elsewhere in the organization or will be let go. For this example, we will go with the latter:
“We have come to the decision to eliminate positions impacted by the closing of the [PLANT NAME]. It is with deepest regret that I must notify you of your position being eliminated from the organization.”
This is by the far the hardest thing to write in the entire letter because it is finally breaking the news that someone’s job has been terminated. However, make sure that you say it succinctly and in a way that everyone can understand. You can, of course, customize this section based on how your organization operates, but remember to keep it short and to the point.
Writing a Plant Closing Notice: The Middle, Part Two
The second middle part of the plant closing notice goes on to say what will happen next for the employee. Who will reach out to them? What are their separation benefits (severance, outplacement, etc). Then, it will ask for any questions and give the employee an avenue to ask them.
This section of the plant closing notice can look like this:
“Someone from Human Resources will call you to set up a meeting in the coming days to discuss this process and the overall implications. The HR representative will discuss with you your separation benefits. These benefits include the use of an outplacement service for assistance in finding a new position through resume writing and career counseling services. Please feel free to ask this HR representative any questions in relation to the position elimination.”
Make sure that you also keep this section to the point. This announcement is just that - an announcement. It is not a treatise on how your company offboards employees or an in-depth explanation of its business practices. It’s all about breaking the news and moving on so that you can tell the employee what they need to know in as few words as possible.
Writing a Plant Closing Notice: The Conclusion
Now that all of that is out of the way, you simply have to wrap up the plant closing notice by thanking the employee and signing off. As you can imagine, this is the easiest part of the whole document.
It can look something like this:
“We appreciate all of the good work you have done during your employment.
Be ready to field any questions that employees may have and make sure that you are ready to meet with them to discuss their benefits packages/address their concerns.
A Plant closing Notice: The Final Say
Remember that this sample that we have been examining today is merely a sample plant closing notice. In order to cover all of your bases, you need to customize this document to address what is happening at your organization.
We recommend that you keep a document like this on file, especially if the economy is impacting your organization, so that you can use it when you need it, eliminating the need to create a new letter ad-hoc when tensions are high and there are a lot of things happening all at once.
We also recommend checking out some of our other reduction in force and layoff guides to help you manage every stage of the plant closing process from notification to outplacement services.