Yesterday, Delaware became the latest state to pass a law requiring private employers to participate in an insurance program that will provide paid family and medical leave to workers who meet certain eligibility requirements. The Healthy Delaware Families Act (Act) is similar to Maryland’s recently-passed Time to Care Act, as well as laws in 10 other jurisdictions that aim to ensure employees have access to paid time off for family and medical reasons.
Under the Delaware Act, private employers who employ 10 to 24 employees working in Delaware must provide eligible employees with paid time off to care for a new child. Those with 25 or more employees must provide paid time off for additional reasons, including the serious health condition of an employee or an employee’s family member, and for a qualifying exigency related to military service by a family member. Family member refers to a child, spouse, or parent, as defined under the federal FMLA.
Employees of a covered employer are eligible for paid leave if they have worked for the employer for at least 12 months and have worked at least 1250 hours in the previous year. A worker who primarily reports to a worksite outside the State of Delaware is not considered an employee for purposes of the Act, unless the employer elects to classify the worker as such.
Eligible employees may receive a maximum of 12 weeks’ family and medical benefits in an application year. Up to 12 weeks in a one-year period is allowed for parental leave, and up to 6 weeks in a two-year period is allowed for medical leave and caregiving reasons.
Benefits will be paid from a fund financed jointly by employee and employer payroll contributions, with initial rates set at 0.8% of an employee’s wages. The weekly benefit amount will be 80% of an employee’s average weekly wages, up to a maximum of $900. Contribution and benefit amounts will be reviewed and adjusted annually by the State Department of Labor.
Like the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, the Delaware Act requires covered employers to maintain employee health care benefits for the duration of leave, and to reinstate employees to the same or an equivalent position upon the conclusion of leave. Discrimination and retaliation against an employee for exercising rights under the Act is prohibited.
As with Maryland’s Time to Care Act, the Delaware Act permits employers who wish to self-insure to do so, provided benefits are equal to or greater than what an employee would receive under the Act.
The new law takes effect July 1, 2022. Contributions are delayed until January 2025, with benefits beginning one year later.