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Delaware Passes Paid Family Leave

Delaware’s legislature has passed a paid family leave law (“Healthy Delaware Families Act (HDFA)” or “Act”) with benefits set to be payable in 2026. The Act creates a statewide paid family, medical and parental leave insurance program.

Covered Employers

The Act would apply to all private sector workers, who work for an employer with 10 or more employees, but leave entitlement will vary based on employer size.

Employers with 10 to 24 employees during the previous 12 months would only be subject to the parental leave provisions, whereas employers with 25 or more employees during the previous 12 months will be subject to all parental, family caregiving and medical leave provisions.

Covered Employees

Covered employees are those that are covered under the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which is as follows:

  • Has been employed for at least 12 months by the employer; and
  • Has been employed for at least 1,250 hours of service with the employer during the previous 12-month period.

Employees may opt to file a waiver of the payroll contributions when their work schedule or length of employment with the employer is not expected to meet the requirement for eligibility for family and medical leave benefits.

Leave Entitlement

The Act provides covered individuals a maximum of 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave each “application year” (i.e., the 12-month period beginning on the first day of the week in which an employee applies for benefits) to care for a child during the first year after the birth, adoption or placement of the child in foster care; or up to six weeks of paid leave in any 24-month period to:

  1. To address a worker’s own serious health condition;
  2. To care for a family member with a serious health condition; or
  3. To address the impact of a family member’s military deployment.

Leave may be taken intermittently or on a reduced schedule.

Contributions and Benefit Amounts

Benefits would be paid out from a newly created state insurance fund. Contributions will be shared by the employer and employee and are to begin on January 1, 2025.

Eligible employees would receive a weekly benefit of 80% of their average weekly wages, from a minimum of $100 to a maximum of $900; this amount would be adjusted for inflation each year starting in 2028.

Benefits During Leave

During the leave, employers are required to maintain any health care benefits the covered individual had before taking the leave for the duration of the leave but may require the employee to pay their share of the cost of health care benefits.

Notice Requirements

Employers will be required to provide written notice to each employee regarding their rights under the law. The notice must also be provided upon learning about the need for leave. In addition, employers will be required to display and maintain a poster in a conspicuous place accessible to employees at the employer’s place of business that contains applicable information about the law in English, Spanish and any language that is the first language spoken by at least five percent of the employer’s workforce, if a poster has been provided in that language by the Delaware Department of Labor Department (DOL).

Reinstatement Rights

Upon return from leave, employees must be restored to the position they held when leave commenced, or to a position with equivalent seniority, status, employment benefits, pay and other terms and conditions of employment, including fringe benefits and service credits.

Next Steps for Employers

The Act requires the DOL to establish and administer procedures for filing claims for benefits, including documentation from a health care provider and to adopt regulations as necessary to implement the leave program. As a result, employers may have to wait for additional guidance and clarification on the program but should continue to monitor its progress and be prepared to comply as the effective date draws closer.

HR Works will continue to monitor this topic and provided updates as they become available.

HR Works, Inc., headquartered at 200 WillowBrook Office Park in Fairport (Rochester), New York, with an office in East Syracuse, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.