Do you need time off work for pregnancy, childbirth, or parenting? Delaware state law doesn't provide pregnancy leave, but if you work in Delaware, the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives you the right to take unpaid leave for these reasons. In addition, the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) prohibits your employer from discriminating against you because of your pregnancy, which may give you the right to take time off work in some cases. Delaware state law does require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees.
There are two types of laws that might protect you if you need pregnancy leave: laws prohibiting pregnancy discrimination and laws that require pregnancy leave.
Delaware's Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits employers from making job decisions based on sex and pregnancy. The law also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees.
A reasonable accommodation means changes to the job or facilities that will allow an employee to work. It might include temporary transfer to a less strenuous position, better seating, more frequent breaks, modified work schedules, light duty, or time off work to recover from childbirth. Employers must follow this law if they have at least four employees.
The PDA does not require employers to give pregnant employees time off work. However, it does require employers to treat employees who are unable to work due to pregnancy just as it treats employees who are temporarily disabled for other reasons, such as injuries or serious illnesses.
The FMLA gives eligible employees the right to take up to 12 weeks off work in a one-year period for serious health conditions including pregnancy and delivery. However, the FMLA applies only to employers with at least 50 employees, and employees are eligible for leave only if they have worked for the employer for at least 12 months, for at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months immediately preceding their leave.
The FMLA allows employees to take their pregnancy leave intermittently, if it's medically necessary. For example, if you have a prenatal check-up, you can use a couple of hours of your leave, then go back to work. The same is true for morning sickness that doesn't last all day. (Learn more about the FMLA, including eligibility requirements, in our article on FMLA leave for pregnancy and disability.)
Some states have their own laws requiring family and medical leave. However, Delaware is not one of them.
Delaware state law does not require employers to provide parenting leave, but the FMLA gives Delaware employees the right to take time off to bond with a new child, including adopted and foster children. This is part of the total 12-week FMLA leave. So, if you use six weeks of FMLA leave during your pregnancy, you will have six weeks left to use for parenting leave.
If you want to use your parenting leave under the FMLA a little at a time (for example, by returning to work half-time for a while), your employer must agree to it. (You aren't automatically entitled to use your parenting leave intermittently.)
Note that if you are married to someone who works for the same company, your employer can limit your total amount of FMLA leave for parenting to 12 weeks for both of you. Whatever portion of your own 12 weeks of FMLA leave you don't use for parenting will still be available to you for other reasons, including your own serious health condition.
FMLA leave and leave as a reasonable accommodation is unpaid. However, you may ask – or your employer may require you – to use your sick days, vacation, or PTO to get paid during your time off.
Your employer may also offer maternity and paternity leave benefits, parental benefits, or short-term disability insurance. Talk to your HR representative or manager (and check your employee handbook) to find out what types of leave are available to you.