The purpose of state labor laws is to protect the rights of employees and to outline the responsibilities and obligations of employers. Each state has a set of labor laws, which might have unique laws or laws that they share with other states.
Part-time vs. Full-time
Delaware law defines full-time employment as “employment of one individual for at least 35 hours per week, not including absences excused by reason of vacations, illness, holidays or similar causes.” Delaware law does not provide a general definition for part-time employment; however, based on the definition of full-time employment, part-time employment is employment of one individual for less than 35 hours per week. For minors age 14 to 17, part-time employment is determined by factors including, school hours, time of day, and time of the year.
The current minimum wage in Delaware is $8.25. The Delaware minimum wage may be equal or higher than the federal minimum wage, but state law prohibits a state minimum lower than the federal amount.
January 2017, Delaware lawmakers put forth legislation to increase the current minimum wage over the next four years. The increase would be in four increments of fifty cents each beginning on October 1, 2017. If Delaware passes the bill, the state minimum wage would be $10.25 by October 2020. The projected state minimum wage increases are:
October 1, 2017
|October 1, 2018||$9.25|
|October 1, 2019||$9.75|
|October 1, 2020||$10.25|
In special circumstances, employers may provide wages lower than the minimum wage after a public hearing with the Delaware Department of Labor. The circumstances include the employment of workers with disabilities, workers under the age of 18, learners, and apprentices.
Workers who receive tips or gratuities, for example – waiters and waitresses, also may receive lower than the minimum wage per hour because the tips or gratuities may be considered wages under the Delaware minimum wage law
Delaware does not have laws that cover overtime. Delaware applies the federal overtime laws as set by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Which means that the general overtime pay must be paid at a rate no less than one and one-half (1 ½) time the employee’s regular pay rate.
Delaware health care benefits offer financial protection against the medical care cost arising from disease and accidental bodily injury. The employer must pay at least 50% of the costs, if the employee has worked for the employer for at least 6 months.30 Delaware required benefits include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Emergency care
- Hearing aid coverage
- Newborn, infant, and mother coverage
- Screening of infants and toddlers for developmental delays
- Midwife services reimbursement
- Child immunizations
It is important to remember that employers are not required to provide health care coverage for employees who not employed full-time.
Federal law and state law prohibits Delaware employers from discriminating against employees based on:
- National origin
- Sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions)
- Physical or mental disability
- Age (40 and older)
- Citizenship status
- Genetic information
- Marital status
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
If an employee feels that they are the victim of employment discrimination, they must first file a claim of discrimination to the Delaware Department of Labor. If the charge is dismissed or the employee and employer fail to come to an agreement on the claim, the Department of Labor will issue a Right to Sue Notice which ends the administrative process. It will allow the employee the right to file a lawsuit against the employer for the discrimination claim.
After a successful lawsuit against an employer for employment discrimination, the employee could face retaliation from their employer. But an employer who seeks revenge against that employee can be fined between $1000 and $5000, in addition to any damages that their behavior causes.
Delaware does not require employers to provide employees with paid or unpaid vacation time off. If an employer does provide vacation benefits, they must put this agreement in a contract with their employees or have a written policy in place. An employer may also put a policy in place or state in a contract that an employee may not receive payment for any paid vacation time left after the employee resigns or is terminated.
Delaware laws does not require private employers to provide paid or unpaid holiday leave. A private employee can be required to work on public holidays and without time and a half. Time and a half pay would only be required if the hours worked on the holidays are overtime hours.
Additionally, Delaware does not require employers to provide leave, paid or unpaid for:
- Sickness (exceptions may apply under the Family Medical Leave Act)
- Bereavement/attending funerals
Employees who are called to serve jury duty must attend; however, employers are not required to pay employers for their jury duty leave. If the employer prevents, threaten, or fire an employee from serving jury duty, then the employer may be criminally fined, imprisoned, and/or sued by the employee.
Delaware does not have laws for leave for family and medical reasons. Instead it follows the Family and Medical Leave Act The FMLA provides 12 workweeks unpaid time off during any 12-month period to employees for:
- Birth of a son or daughter and to care for such son or daughter.
- Placement of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care.
- To care for the spouse, or a son, daughter, or parent, who has a serious health condition.
- Due to serious health condition that makes the employee unable to work,
- Due to any qualifying demands or emergencies that arise because the spouse, or a son, daughter, or parent of the employee is on covered active duty or will be on active duty in the Armed Forces.
The FMLA provides 26 workweeks unpaid servicemember family leave during any 12-month period to the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of a servicemember to care for the servicemember.
Maternal leave is time off from a job that mother takes to give birth, after an adoption, or after undertaking foster care. In recent years, there has been a rise in fathers asserting their rights to time off for paternal leave. The FMLA is not based on gender; so paternal leave has always been an available option for employees.
Where Can I Find a Local Lawyer to Help Me?
If you have any questions or concerns about whether you are receiving your rights and protections as an employee under the Delaware labor laws, contact a local delaware employment lawyer today.