State opens public comment period on paid family leave rules

Betsy PriceGovernment, Headlines

Paid leave

The Delaware Department of Labor has published regulations for the state’s new Paid Family and Medical Leave insurance program and is seeking public comment on them. Photo by Pexels.

The Delaware Department of Labor this week opened the 30-day public comment period on proposed regulations for the state’s new Paid Family and Medical Leave insurance program.

It will take effect Jan. 1, 2025, and employees and employers to pay into it before it can be drawn on the following year.

Largely based on the federal Family Medical Leave Act program that has been in place since 1993, it is designed to replace up to 80% of a covered individual’s average weekly wage and provide job-protected leave for some family situations. They include bonding with a child during its first year, caring for a family member with a serious health condition or dealing with the impact of a family member’s military deployment, among other situations.

The new law:

  • Provides up to 12 weeks of leave to employees covered by the plan.
  • Requires employers with at least 10 employees in Delaware to contribute to the fund.
  • Permits companies to make employees responsible for up to half the cost of those contributions.
  • Allows employees to start using the paid leave program beginning Jan. 1, 2026.

Family leave background

Created under the Healthy Delaware Families Act signed into law in May 2022, the Paid Family and Medical Leave insurance program was part of a national push for these kind of programs, just as huge state revenue surpluses were making funds available to create a new department and program.

The programs are designed to help workers in smaller companies who may not have family leave programs. Companies that do have them are allowed to opt out of the program.

The rules do require workers be on the job for specific lengths of time before being able to qualify for leave.

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The Division of Paid Leave, the newest division of the Delaware Department of Labor, encourages all interested parties, especially employers and employees, to read the rules and comment.

“The insights we receive will be extremely valuable to the Division of Paid Leave as we implement and assess the new program, as well as along our path of shaping the future vision and work of this new division,” said Christopher Counihan, director of the Division of Paid Leave. “We are hoping to hear from Delawareans how the paid leave program might support their family as they care for loved ones.

And we especially want to hear from Delaware’s employers—everything from challenges they feel the program may present to potential benefits in employee attraction, retention  and more.”

To comment on the proposed regulations by Tuesday, May 30, submit comments or questions to Counihan by email at [email protected] or by mail at Delaware Department of Labor, 4425 N. Market St., Wilmington, DE 19802

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