News & Insights

Delaware Update: Paid Leave of 12 Weeks for Birth or Adoption of a Child

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In April of 2017, we posted about HB 3, which essentially provides for up to twelve weeks of paid leave for certain employees who work for the State of Delaware and school districts, for birth or adoption of a child 6 years of age or younger.  See here.  The law (if passed) would apply to both parents – even if both work for the same department, division, agency, or district.  Such leave would be available once the employee is employed for at least one year.  It could be taken any time within the 12-month period after the date of the birth or adoption.  Therefore, we are talking up to 24 weeks of pay in a single twelve-month period for a qualifying two-parent team.

Governor Carney and Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long were in the news in recent days speaking in support of HB 3.  Thus, reader should not believe that HB 3 is a dead issue.

The benefit certainly would be nice for the employees; but it also most certainly comes at a cost to taxpayers.  At the time of my last post, the fiscal note/fee impact for this legislation was listed as “incomplete.” Thus, the projected cost of such a law was not yet known.  However, similar legislation from the year before listed costs as follows: $929,000 (Fiscal Year 2017); $1,858,000 (Fiscal Year 2018); and $1,858,000 (Fiscal Year 2019).  Interestingly, the new fiscal note, lists costs as follows:  $1,239,672 (Fiscal Year 2019); $2,479,344 (Fiscal Year 2020); and $2,479.344 (Fiscal Year 2021).  The estimated school district expense is $1,388,906, which apparently is estimated lower than it otherwise would be, premised in part on schools hiring substitute coverage contractually rather than as state employees.  See here for a copy of the fiscal note.  Whether these estimates are reasonable estimates of the cost of this proposed paid leave is beyond my knowledge.

In addition to the fiscal note, since my last post, an amendment was proposed in the last few days that simply replaces the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) with the Department of Human Resources (“Department”). The Department was created recently and now oversees various responsibilities that previously belonged to OMB. This change requires the Department to establish guidelines for other state agencies to follow in granting leave under this Act and to distribute the guidelines to these state agencies.

For it or against it, readers who care about this issue should take action.  Your leaders urged lawmakers to offer their full support of the legislation.  We can expect that the lawmakers will listen (and I suspect many will agree).  Therefore, now is the time to weigh in with your lawmakers if you also want to be heard.  Furthermore, although HB 3 does not apply to private employers or employees of private employers, a watchful eye on legislation remains advisable.  If Delaware legislators view paid leave to be good social policy in the public employment arena, it would be reasonable to imagine that similar legislators might view it to be good social policy in the private employment arena.

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