Public feedback sought in shaping Delaware’s paid family and medical leave program
Paid Family and Medical Leave – it’s for new parents, for helping aging parents, or being there for a loved one who faces a serious health issue.
In Delaware, the Healthy Delaware Families Act expects to provide most workers statewide with up to 12 weeks of paid leave.
But creating such a plan from scratch takes time. Right now, the state is collecting feedback about the program’s proposed regulatory framework.
This week, Delaware Public Media’s Tom Byrne caught up with Chris Counihan – Director of the new Division of Paid Leave – to get an update on the public’s feedback and how the program is coming along.
The Healthy Delaware Families Act, signed into law last year, expects to provide most workers statewide with up to 12 weeks of paid leave, and the state is collecting feedback as it develops the program's regulatory framework.
Program contributions are slated to start in January 2025, with benefits available the following year. Most Delaware employers with 10 or more employees will contribute to a fund to sustain it – with employees possibly responsible for up to half the cost.
The director of the state's new Division of Paid Leave Chris Counihan says they’ve learned a lot from other states with similar programs - including how to keep costs down.
“We are going to be hiring as few state employees as possible to effectively and efficiently deliver these benefits," Counihan says. "I’ve talked to some of the other states and they have 225 people just working the call center, and we are going to have 60 employees total. So we’re looking at a much more focused group so that keeps the prices down as much as possible.”
He adds because it's a statewide program, smaller groups will have much more stable and lower prices.
He says the focus now is on the technical aspects of creating the program, with the public comment period open through the end of the month seeking to ensure the division hasn’t missed any major employee or employer concerns.
“Roughly 10,000 employers are affected by this, roughly 400,000 employees are affected by this," Counihan says. "But if you count all their family members, the spouses, the children, the parents, that are going to be helped by his program, we’re talking about 70% or more of the state of Delaware is going to be impacted by this plan.”
The proposed program regulations can be found at regulations.delaware.gov.