DELAWARE VALUES HEALTHY FAMILIES

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Patricia Tsipras

May 26, 2022

On May 10, 2022, Delaware Governor John Carney signed into law the Healthy Delaware Families Act, creating a statewide paid family and medical leave insurance program to provide Delaware workers up to 12 weeks of paid (up to 80% of average weekly wage), job-protected leave for certain qualifying events.  Delaware is the 11th State in the United States to pass such legislation.

How is the program funded?
The program will be funded through contributions from employers and workers.  Contributions will begin on January 1, 2025.

Who are covered employers?
Employers with fewer than ten workers are exempt from contributing, and the law includes an exemption for employers that are closed for at least 30 consecutive days during the year.

Employers with ten to 24 workers during the previous 12 months are subject only to the parental leave requirements.  Employers with at least 25 workers during the previous 12 months are subject to the parental, family caregiving, and medical leave requirements of the Act.

Who are covered workers?
Any individual who primarily reports for work in Delaware and who has worked for one year for their employer and at least 1,250 hours in the previous 12 months is eligible for leave under the Act.

What events qualify for leave?
Qualifying events permitting workers to take leave – starting on January 1, 2026 – include the following:

  • To care for a child during the first year after the child’s birth, adoption, or placement of the child through foster care
  • To care for a family member (defined as a parent, child, or spouse) with a serious health condition
  • To care for a covered worker’s own serious health condition that results in the worker’s inability to perform the functions of their position
  • Because the covered worker has a qualifying exigency, as defined under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act

How frequently may workers take leave?
Workers will be eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave annually, and up to six weeks of paid family caregiving leave, paid medical leave, or paid military leave every two years.  The leave may be taken on an intermittent basis.

May employers require certification?
Yes.  Employers may require certification from a health care provider to support a request for leave for a worker’s own, or for a worker’s family member’s, serious health condition.

What rights do workers have during and upon return from leave?
Workers who take leave under the Act are entitled to continued health benefits during their leave and to reinstatement to the same or an equivalent position following leave.

What are the penalties for violations of the Act?
Employers that violate the law – either by not providing leave or by engaging in retaliation for taking leave – may be subject to damages, including lost wages, actual damages caused by leave denied, liquidated damages, attorney’s fees, and reinstatement.

 

*Special thanks to Brooke Palma, our Office Administrator, for her contributions to this article.

 
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