Paid Holidays in Delaware (2024 Guide for Employers)

Delaware business owners should understand that the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), despite setting how businesses across the nation handle certain breaks, does not require that business owners provide paid holiday leave. This might seem like a break to business owners. Tracking time, scheduling, and paid time off is enough of a hassle without throwing in paid holidays on a yearly basis.

Despite this, monitoring and offering paid holidays to your employees is actually an asset for business owners and can contribute to greater profitability and productivity.

In this post we’re going to break down everything business owners need to know about paid holidays, including:

  • Defining Paid Holidays
  • How Paid Holidays impact the public sector vs the private sector
  • Federal Holidays vs State Holidays
  • Delaware-Specific Holidays
  • The Benefits of Offering Paid Holiday Time
  • FAQs
  • How Buddy Punch helps you conquer Paid Holidays

What is a Paid Holiday?

A paid holiday is a religious, state, or national holiday that Delaware employees have the eligibility to grant their employees. If you choose to do so, your team members will get the day off but still earn a full day’s worth of wages.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 80% of workers in private industries are given paid holidays by their employers. This may seem counterintuitive since offering them is completely optional, but there are a couple of reasons business owners do this:

  • It’s easier for a business owner with a more generous benefits package (paid holidays being part of this) to attract workers during the hiring process
  • Paid holidays give both employees and employers chances to relax throughout the work year, which can help with work/life balance
  • After a paid holiday, workers are usually recharged and ready to do more efficient work

In other words, paid holidays can be mutually beneficial for both employers and employees.

Who do Paid Holidays apply to?

Only public employers are required by federal law to adhere to offering paid holidays to employees. Public sector employers include taxpayer-funded organizations working at the municipal, state, or federal level.

That said, any private employer choosing to offer paid holiday leave should outline their rules around it in their employment contract, PTO policy, or some other form of written documentation. This makes it clear for both employer and employees what the expectations are, which helps in the case of a dispute. Once the rules are established, an employer is held to them by Delaware labor law.

Federal Holidays

The list of all federal holidays to be observed throughout the 2024 calendar year (regardless of what state you’re in) and the date they fall on is as follows:

  • New Year’s Day (Monday, January 1)
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Monday, January 15)
  • George Washington’s Birthday / President’s Day (Monday, February 19 – third Monday in February)
  • Memorial Day (Monday, May 27 – last Monday in May)
  • Juneteenth National Independence Day (Wednesday, June 19)
  • Independence Day (Thursday, July 4)
  • Labor Day (Monday, September 2)
  • Columbus Day (Monday, October 14 – second Monday in October)
  • Veterans Day (Monday, November 11)
  • Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 28)
  • Christmas Day (Wednesday, December 25)

Some states change the official names and nature of these holidays. For example, Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is known as Robert E. Lee Day in some southern states.

Any legal holiday that happens to fall on a Saturday results in employees having the preceding Friday before the holiday off. If a federal holiday happens to land on a Sunday, employees get a day off the following Monday.

Holidays Specific to the State of Delaware

  • Good Friday (Friday, March 29)
  • Election Day (Tuesday, November 5)
  • Return Day (Thursday, November 7)*
  • Day After Thanksgiving (Friday, November 29)

The State of Delaware also grants two floating holidays to eligible employees per calendar year.

*Return Day is after 12 noon for State employees living and/or working in Sussex County.

Impact of Common Delaware Leave Laws

While we’re observing the overall impact of paid holidays on work hours, let’s take a look at Delaware’s Labor Laws.

Important note: Delaware is in a transition period when it comes to handling paid leave. At the moment there are few state laws that determine how paid leave is to be handled, but Delaware’s governor has already signed the Delaware Paid Leave Law, which will go into effect January 1, 2026.

From that date, most businesses with 10 or more employees will be required to participate in new paid leave rules. In those businesses employees who have been employed at least one year and at least 1,250 hours with a single employer will get up to 80% of their wagers (up to $900 per week) to cover the following:

  • Care for a new child (up to 12 weeks per year)
  • Care for a family member with a serious health condition (up to 6 weeks, every 24 months)
  • Address a personal serious health condition or injury (up to 6 weeks, every 24 months), or
  • Assist while loved ones are on overseas military deployment (up to 6 weeks, every 24 months)

Employees will be limited to a maximum of 12 weeks of total, combined leave per year.

Sick Time

Delaware does not currently have any laws relating to sick time. Eligible employees may be entitled to sick leave through the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Vacation Leave and Holiday Time

Delaware does not currently have any state laws that require employers to provide vacation leave to their employees. That said, if a Delaware employer chooses to offer vacation leave, they will be held by law to whatever rules and accrual rates they outline.

Parental Leave

Delaware does not currently have a state-specific parental leave option, though it will starting on January 1, 2026. Until then, the only Parental Leave available to employees is that offered voluntarily by employers or that which an employee may be eligible for through the FMLA, though there are specific conditions and medical reasons in those parameters.

Bereavement Leave

There is no state law that determines that employers must offer paid or unpaid leave in cases of bereavement. Like other types of leave, an employer has the option to offer it in their company policy if they so wish but will be held to any agreement they outline by state labor laws.

Jury Duty

Delaware employers are not required to pay employees for their time spent serving on a jury and are also not prevented from requiring employees to use their PTO for jury duty service.

Voting

Time off for voting is entirely determined by employers in Delaware. That said, Delaware employers cannot hinder, control, coerce, or intimidate or attempt to hinder, control, coerce, or intimidate any qualified elector of Delaware from or in the exercise of the elector’s right to vote at any general, special or municipal election held under the laws of the state by means of bribery or by threats of depriving such elector of employment or occupation, absolutely or contingently, directly or indirectly. This applies to all employees, excluding those employed in positions essential for public safety, healthcare, transportation, etc.

Overtime Pay

Delaware has no specific laws pertaining to overtime pay, which means that employers default to following the federal standards set by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Employees are entitled to one and a half times their regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek, or 8 hours in a workday.

Read our guide here for a more comprehensive look at how Delaware Law affects your workplace.

The Benefits of Paid Holidays

Delaware is a state that has historically left rules relating to paid holidays and paid leave entirely up to employers, though that is set to shift in the upcoming years. Employers may feel resistant to this change, and want to take advantage of the optional rules while they can. If you don’t have to offer paid vacations, why should you?

Here are three strong reasons to look at paid holidays in a different light, taking into consideration the impact they’ll have on your business’s future success:

1. Paid Holidays Make Your Business More Competitive

The hiring process has experienced a shift in the mentality of workers ever since the pandemic. There was a tangible increase in the importance of a proper work-life balance in the public consciousness. According to a survey by Deloitte, 25% of Gen Z and 31% of millennials choose a good work/life balance as their reason for choosing an organization, which is the highest agreed-upon reason for making the decision.

One way you can help employees achieve that better work/life balance that they want is by offering them paid holidays. With this on the table, you should be able to attract more prospective workers to your company, which means you have a wider selection from which to pick the best fits for your business goals.

2. Paid Holidays Improve Company Morale

A healthy (and useful) benefit of paid holidays is that they allow employees time to recuperate from work, especially since there is no added stress about financials since the time off is fully compensated. This means that employees can recover from work, handle things in their personal lives, and then come back into your company recharged and ready to work. They’ll be more likely to be more productive as well as more cooperative with other team members, which means a better work environment for everyone.

Paid holidays are also a useful salve for increasingly stressed and overworked employees, a situation which the Pew Research Center noted was behind 35% of workers quitting. Note, 43% of quitting workers cited a lack of good benefits (health insurance and paid time off). Rather than risking your company being one of these examples, you can provide employees with the reprieve they’re signaling that they need.

3. Paid Holidays Save Companies Money

This is one advantage that employers are usually surprised to hear about, but it makes sense when you look at the long-term implications of paid holidays, rather than the short-term impacts. Paid holidays can contribute to your employees being able to work at your company longer, rather than them experiencing burnout and leaving your business. This is an important impact to consider, since it costs a significant amount of money to replace an employee. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) estimates that replacing a team member costs around six to nine months of an employee’s salary.

When you consider these benefits, paid holidays quickly become worth the cost.

Track Paid Holidays and Employee Leave with Buddy Punch

Now that we’ve outlined everything relevant when it comes to paid holidays and vacation time, it’s time we highlight one way to alleviate the hassle of managing paid breaks. Workforce management solutions like our very own Buddy Punch give employers the tools they need to properly monitor their team members on site and off site.

While we are of course biased towards our own tool, the fact that Buddy Punch has had over 10,000 business owners adopt it and has a rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars with 979 reviews on popular software review site Capterra says a lot about how well it functions.

Consider what you’d get out of using Buddy Punch’s Paid Time Off Management Feature. With this, you can revolutionize your time off management through common leave types as well as the ability to create your own custom types of PTO at will. Whenever an employee sends in a leave request, you and/or your administrators will receive a notification, which sets you up for easy approval or denial of the request. This feature also comes with a PTO accruals option, which allows you to set your own rules for accumulation, maximum capacity, and carry over logic.

But the real crowning functionality that sets Buddy Punch’s PTO apart from competitors is the ability to enable a self-service approach to paid time off. This option, which can be enabled on an employee-by-employee basis, allows you to set trustworthy employees to be automatically approved for their leave requests. Give your team members something to work towards, and free up your own schedule to optimize other facets of your business.

All of these aspects, and we’re only talking about one feature Buddy Punch has to offer. There are plenty of more employee time tracking, staff scheduling, and built-in payroll options you get when you use our tool. Click here to view a demo video, or click here to start a 14-day free trial of Buddy Punch.

Keeping track of paid vacations for your employees can be such a hassle that business owners, especially small business owners, choose to opt out of it where they can. But that’s a mistake in most situations. Understanding the data and potential benefits, adopting employee management software to streamline the process, and looking towards what’s best for long-term success is the best way to think about paid vacations from your workplace.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

So, offering PTO of any kind is optional in Delaware?

As of now, yes, but come January 1, 2026, many businesses will have to contend with the new Delaware Paid Leave law going into effect. On that day, only small businesses with 9 or fewer employees will be exempt from the new rules.

That said, unpaid military leave is required to be offered to military members across the United States, thanks to the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) providing protections for them in thanks for their national service.

Do Delaware Businesses have to pay out unused PTO if an employee quits or is terminated?

No. Unless employers stipulate otherwise in the company’s policy or the employee handbook, there is no requirement that Delaware business owners pay out unused accrued vacation hours upon termination.

Do employers tend to offer employees all 11 paid federal holidays?

According to a survey conducted by Zippia, the average U.S. employees receive 7.6 paid holidays. The two most common paid holidays are Thanksgiving and Christmas, while President’s Day and New Year’s Eve are the two least common.

What is Delaware’s minimum wage?

As of January 1, 2024, Delaware’s minimum wage is $13.25 per hour. It is set to increase one more time, going up to $15.00 per hour effective January 1, 2025.

Official State Resources

Disclaimer: Not Legal Advice

This blog post provides a general overview of Delaware Holiday & Paid Leave Laws but does not constitute legal advice, nor does it replace an attorney-client relationship. Laws and regulations are subject to change, and there may be additional requirements or exemptions that apply to specific situations. Employers and employees should consult a qualified labor law attorney for advice on their specific circumstances.

If you have any questions about your rights or obligations as an employer or employee in Delaware, it is essential to consult with a labor law attorney or employment lawyer to receive accurate information and guidance tailored to your situation. By seeking professional legal advice, you can ensure that you are taking the appropriate steps to comply with labor laws and protect your rights.

US States

Need help with Paid Leave Management?
Custom & Common PTO Types.

Never lose track of employee time.

Notifications on leave requests, easy approval or denial, and self-service options.

Spend less time managing sick leave, more time optimizing operations.