Two Neighboring States Recently Joined a Growing Movement to Provide Paid Family Leave

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Maryland and Delaware recently joined the growing list of states that have enacted legislation requiring employers to offer paid family and medical leave.  Both states are still working on implementing regulations for the new laws; but, in the meantime, below is a brief summary of what you need to know about these laws and when they will take effect.

Maryland

Maryland’s new law will cover all employers with at least one employee in the state.  To be eligible for the leave, employees must have worked at least 680 hours over the 12-month period before the leave begins.  Employees also must exhaust all voluntarily provided paid leave before taking paid leave under this law.

Beginning on January 1, 2025, all eligible employees may take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave in an application year for the following reasons:

  • To care for a child in the first year following a birth, adoption, or foster care placement;
  • For an employee’s own serious health condition;
  • To care for a family member with a serious health condition;
  • To care for a service member with a serious health condition who is the employee’s next of kin; or
  • For a qualifying exigency relating to a family member on active duty.

Employees may also be eligible for an additional 12 weeks per year for their own serious health condition if the initial 12 weeks of leave was taken to care for a new child, and vice versa.

The paid leave will be funded by employee wage deductions and, for employers with 15 or more employees, employer contributions or the establishment of self-funded private employer plans to provide paid leave.  The benefit amount will be determined by the state average weekly wage and the employee’s current rate of pay, with the maximum benefit for 2025 being $1,000 per week and the minimum amount being $50 per week.  The amount of the benefit will be adjusted annually based on the consumer price index.

Delaware

Delaware’s new law creates a statewide insurance program for paid parental, family caregiving, and medical leave funded through employer and employee contributions.  Employers with at least 25 employees in Delaware during the prior 12-month period must provide eligible employees with a maximum of 12 weeks of job-protected leave.  Employers with 10 to 24 employees only need to offer parental leave.  Employer contributions begin on January 1, 2025, and eligible employees will be permitted to take leave beginning on January 1, 2026.

Similar to the federal FMLA, employees are eligible for this leave if they have worked 1,250 hours during the previous 12-month period and have worked for a covered employer for at least one year.  Eligible employees will be able to take leave for the following reasons:

  • To address their own serious health condition;
  • To care for a family member with a serious health condition;
  • To bond and care for a child during the first year following birth, adoption, or foster placement; or
  • To address a family member’s military deployment.

Employees can take up to 12 weeks in an application year for parental reasons and 6 weeks in a two-year period for their own health condition, to care for a family member, or for a family member’s military deployment.  Employers may require employees to use accrued paid time off to substitute for paid leave.

Eligible employees will receive 80% of their average weekly wage, with a minimum weekly benefit of $100 and a maximum weekly benefit of $900 for 2026 and 2027.  For each year thereafter, the state will adjust the contribution rate based on consumer price index.  The benefits are funded by employer contributions, but employers may deduct up to 50% of the premiums from employees’ wages.

Employers have some time to prepare for these new requirements, and now is a good time to start reviewing your existing policies to prepare for these changes.  For more information, or for assistance with policy drafting and training, please contact any member of the McNees Labor and Employment Group.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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