Delaware Leave Laws


Vacation Leave

In Delaware, employers are not required to provide employees with vacation benefits, either paid or unpaid. See DE Statute 19-1109; Willey v. Beneficial Corp., 1986 Del. Super. LEXIS 1072 (1986); Lloyd v. Wilmington Savings Fund Society, 1985 Del. Super. LEXIS 1194 (1985). If an employer chooses to provide such benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract.

An employer may lawfully establish a policy or enter into a contract denying employees payment for accrued vacation leave upon separation from employment. See DE Statute 19-1109; Lloyd v. Wilmington Savings Fund Society, 1985 Del. Super. LEXIS 1194 (1985).

An employer may lawfully establish a policy or enter into a contract disqualifying employees from payment of accrued vacation upon separation from employment if they are terminated. See Lloyd v. Wilmington Savings Fund Society, 1985 Del. Super. LEXIS 1194 (1985).

An employer may also lawfully establish a policy or enter into a contract disqualifying employees from payment of accrued vacation upon separation from employment if they fail to comply with specific requirements, such as giving two weeks notice or being employed as of a specific date of the year. See Lloyd v. Wilmington Savings Fund Society, 1985 Del. Super. LEXIS 1194 (1985).

An employer is required to pay accrued vacation to an employee upon separation from employment if its policy or contract requires it. See DE Statute 19-1109.

An employer may not be required to pay accrued vacation leave upon separation from employment if the employer’s established policy or employment contract is silent on the matter unless the employer has established a practice of doing so. An employer may lawfully cap the amount of leave an employee may accrue over time. See Hullinger v. Corrin, 1987 Del. C.P. LEXIS 6 (1987); Willey v. Beneficial Corp., 1986 Del. Super. LEXIS 1072 (1986).

An employer would also likely be free to implement a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy requiring employees to use their leave by a set date or lose it. See DE Statute 19-1109; Lloyd v. Wilmington Savings Fund Society, 1985 Del. Super. LEXIS 1194 (1985).


Sick Leave

In Delaware, employers are not required to provide employees with sick leave, either paid or unpaid. See DE Statute 19-1109. If an employer chooses to provide sick leave benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract.

An employer in Delaware may be required to provide an employee unpaid sick leave in accordance with the Family and Medical Leave Act or other federal laws.


Holiday Leave

Delaware law does not require private employers to provide employees with either paid or unpaid holiday leave. See DE Statute 19-1109. In Delaware, a private employer can require an employee to work holidays. A private employer does not have to pay an employee premium pay, such as 1½ times the regular rate, for working on holidays, unless such time worked qualifies the employee for overtime under standard overtime laws. If an employer chooses to provide either paid or unpaid holiday leave, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract.

State holidays

Visit our Delaware State Holidays page for a list of holidays recognized and observed by the state of Delaware as well as information regarding state laws governing holiday leave for public employers and employees.


Jury Duty Leave

An employer is not required to pay an employee for responding to a jury summons or for serving on a jury. An employer may not consider as wages the fee paid by the state to an employee for jury service. DE Statute 10-4514

An employer may not discharge, penalize, threaten, or otherwise coerce an employee because the employee receives or responds to a summons or serves as a juror. DE Statute 10-4515


Voting Leave

Delaware law does not require an employer to allow employees time off, paid or unpaid, to vote.

If an employee has vacation time, an employer cannot prevent the employee from using accrued time to act as an election officer, so long as the employee is not in a critical need position. Critical need position is an employee in public safety, corrections, transportation, health care, utilities, a small business employing twenty (20) or fewer people, or necessary for the business or industry to operate on election day.

An employer who refuses to allow an employee to use accrued vacation or personal leave to serve as an election officer may be found guilty of criminal contempt which can result in a fine of up to a $500 or six (6) months in jail or both. Also, if an employer fires an employee in violation of this law, the employee may file a lawsuit within 90 days for lost wages and reinstatement and may be awarded reasonable attorney’s fees.

DE Statute 15-4709


Bereavement Leave

Delaware law does not require employers to provide employees bereavement leave or leave to attend funerals. Bereavement leave is leave that is taken by an employee due to the death of another individual, usually a close relative. Employers may choose to provide bereavement leave and may be required to comply with any bereavement policy or practice they maintain.


Family Medical Leave

The Delaware labor laws do not require employers to provide employees with family medical leave. However, private employers can develop their types of leave to help accommodate ailing employees.

Like all other states in the United States, Delaware provides sick leave through the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Under these rules, employers with a minimum of 50 employees must provide 12 weeks of leave within 12 months. It’s important to note that this time off is unpaid, but employees can continue accessing their original health insurance benefits.

Employees must meet qualifications before being eligible to receive leave under the FMLA. These eligibility requirements include:

  • Having worked for employers for a minimum of 1250 hours the previous year
  • Employees must have worked for the company for at least 12 months
  • Employees must work at a location with a minimum of 50 employees in a 75-mile radius

There are specific situations in which employees are eligible to use the FMLA for leave. Under the FMLA, employees can use their unpaid time off for the following reasons:

  • Recuperating from a health condition
  • Assisting a family member with a serious health condition
  • Caring for an ailing or injured military family member
  • Bonding with a new child

Employees caring for ill or injured family members receive 26 weeks of unpaid leave versus 12. These weeks of leave are available per family member per injury.


Parental Leave

Delaware labor laws do not require employers to provide employees with parental leave.

However, employers can establish their own levels of parental leave for employees to take advantage of. For example, the state government provides 12 weeks of paid parental leave during the first 12 months of parenthood.

Alternatively, employees can take parental leave through the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Under this medical leave, you will be entitled to the same benefits, including 12 weeks of unpaid leave within 12 months. Additionally, parents will be able to receive their standard health insurance benefits.

Some employers may also offer individual parental leave programs. Any company policies within employee contracts must be followed.


Military Leave

Military members in Delaware are entitled to the same benefits that the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) offers, including:

  • Employees have the right to continue group healthcare benefits for 24 months of their leave
  • Upon return, employees must be reinstated to the same (or equivalent) previously held position
  • Employees must receive up to five years of unpaid leave for military service (with exceptions)

Unlike other states, Delaware does not provide additional leave benefits to active duty personnel or their families. However, they offer protections to individuals who are enlisted in the armed forces.

All military personnel must receive the same rights, privileges, and protections as state reservists and National Guard members.

Upon returning from active duty, employers must provide military employees the same (or equivalent) job positions. Employers cannot threaten or discriminate against their employees for joining military service. Additionally, returning employees must be offered the same place, pay, and benefits before leaving for active duty.


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