The Healthy Delaware Families Act Mandates Paid Leave for Private-Sector Workers

May 18, 2022

Publication| Labor & Employment

On May 10, 2022, Governor John Carney signed the Healthy Delaware Families Act (“HDFA”), a state-run leave program that will provide paid family and medical leave to most employees in the private sector.  Employees will be able to take advantage of the paid leave benefits beginning January 1, 2026.

Generally, the HDFA will require Delaware employers to provide up to 12 weeks of paid family leave per year and up to 6 weeks of military or medical leave for other qualifying events every two years, as previously defined in the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”).  Employees are limited to a cumulative total of 12 weeks overall in a given year.  Such qualifying events include, but are not limited to, addressing a worker’s own serious health condition, caring for a family member with a serious health condition, caring for a new child, and addressing the impact of a family member’s military deployment.

The weekly benefit for eligible employees must be 80% of their weekly wages rounded up to the nearest even $1.00 increment.  The minimum weekly benefit may not be less than $100 per week, unless the eligible employee’s average weekly wage is less than $100.  The maximum weekly benefit will be $900 in 2026 and 2027, to be increased for inflation thereafter.

To be eligible, employees must: (1) work for a covered employer for at least 12 months; (2) perform at least 1,250 hours of service in the preceding 12 months prior to requesting benefits; and (3) primarily report to a worksite in the state of Delaware.  Covered employers are those employing 10 or more employees anywhere in the state of Delaware.  Employers with 10 to 24 employees must only provide the parental leave employee benefit, while employers with 25 or more employees must provide paid parental, medical, military, and caregiver leave.  Part-time and seasonal employees will not be counted towards these totals.

The HDFA does not apply to employers with less than 10 employees or the federal government.  Covered employers can opt out from the requirements of the HDFA if the Delaware Department of Labor (“DDOL”) deems such employer’s private benefits package comparable and without adverse impact to the solvency of the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Account Fund, to which contributions will be made pursuant to the HDFA.

The state will provide one-time funding of almost $18 million to initially establish the Fund.  Ongoing funding will come from a payroll tax of 0.8% of each employee’s weekly pay.  Initial employer contributions (beginning in 2025), calculated as percentages of their total payrolls, will be: 0.4% for medical leave, 0.08% for caregiver and medical leave, and 0.32% for parental leave.  The DDOL will set a contribution rate for each benefit in 2027 and every calendar year thereafter, with restrictions on the maximum mandated contribution rate for each benefit.  Required contributions begin on January 1, 2025.

A link to the signed bill follows:

If you have any questions, please contact an RLF employment attorney.

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