News & Insights

Delaware Bill Proposes Mandatory Paid FMLA For Certain Public Employers

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Last year, I provided notice about legislation that pertained to paid leave for birth of a child or adoption of a child. That legislation did not become law.

Earlier this April 2017, a new, similar bill was introduced as HB 3. It can be found here. Essentially, if that bill becomes law, certain employees working for the State of Delaware and school districts will have a legal right to paid leave, which is not required under the applicable federal law (i.e., the Family and Medical Leave Act). This bill does not propose to have paid leave required by private employers.

In many instances, the proposed right to paid leave is for up to twelve weeks – which obviously tax payers fund. The bill seeks to make the law effective as of January 1, 2019. The bill proposes to obligate the Office of Management and Budget, by that date, to establish guidelines for state agencies governing the application and granting of leave, including required notice and documentation, and to distribute such guidelines to all affected state agencies.

The fiscal note/fee impact for this legislation is listed currently as “incomplete.” Thus, the projected cost of such a law is not yet known.

Last year’s legislation listed costs as follows: $929,000 (Fiscal Year 2017); $1,858,000 (Fiscal Year 2018); and $1,858,000 (Fiscal Year 2019). Assumptions upon which those figures were based included the following:

  1. According to the State Health Insurance providers, there were 922 births last year. Based on the number of employees in each agency, pro-rated according to agency populations between 18 and 45 years old, the Office of Management and Budget estimates that there were 412 births attributable to state agency employees and 510 births attributable to school district employees.
  2. This analysis assumes individuals already take off 6 weeks after the birth of a child; therefore any overtime expense or substitute teacher expense is already occurring and is currently budgeted.
  3. For state agency related births, this analysis only considers cost impacts for Departments with 24/7 facilities, state police patrol employees, and probation and parole officers who would accrue additional overtime as a result of this legislation. For school district related births, this analysis only assumes the expense related to the daily rate for “Class A” substitute teachers.
  4. State Agency employees have an estimated 412 births each year. Of those births, this analysis assumes that 107 births are attributable to employees who work in 24/7 facilities, who are patrol officers, and who are probation and parole officers. The estimated State Agency overtime expense is approximately $920,000 (estimate includes salary and OECs).
  5. School districts have an estimated 510 births each year, with 275 of those births attributable to teachers. The estimate for 1 “Class A” substitute teacher for 6 weeks is $3,411. The estimated school district expense is approximately $938,000 (estimate includes salary and OECs excluding pension).

Anyone with an opinion about such assumptions, the cost or other impact that such law might have, or on matters concerning the policy/potential law more generally, should consider contacting an elected representative as soon as possible. A list of State representatives can be found here. A list of State senators can be found here.

While the bill does not apply to private employers, private employers (especially those having 50 or more employees) might want to be vigilant. For better or worse (you decide), legislators within Delaware’s General Assembly have certainly shown a strong willingness to advocate for laws that impact private employers. See, for example, the bill discussed here.

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