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Delaware employment and labor laws govern wages, leaves, and other important aspects of the workplace. Understanding these laws can help workers in Delaware avoid exploitation and shed light on the state's employment landscape characterized by staffing shortages in the transportation, courts, healthcare, and tourism sectors.

Recent data shows concerning trends, including rising job separations that come close to matching new hires. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, while 25,000 workers were hired in February 2023, 23,000 quit. 

This uptick in resignations, despite upcoming state minimum wage increases, raises questions about why people are leaving their jobs in Delaware. Do issues with working conditions and benefits play a role? 

This article will cover the key points of Delaware's employment and labor laws and other legal protections for workers. Knowing your rights under Delaware law can help you navigate the state's challenging employment situation.

Delaware Wage and Hour Laws

Minimum Wage Laws

The minimum wage in Delaware is $11.75 per hour. This is set to increase to $13.25 in 2024 and $15.00 in 2025. For tipped employees, the minimum wage remains at $2.23 per hour. 

Some employees are not required to be paid the standard minimum wage in Delaware. The following workers are not covered by the minimum wage requirement:

  • U.S. government employees.

  • Agriculture workers.

  • Domestic workers in private homes.

  • Fishers.

  • Outside commission-paid sales workers.

  • Volunteer workers for nonprofit, religious, and educational organizations.

  • Inmates taking part in programs of the Department of Correction.

Overtime Laws

Delaware follows the law on overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA. This legislation requires employers to pay 1.5 times the regular hourly wage for all hours worked outside the 37.5- or 40-hour workweek. So, if you’re a minimum wage earner, you are entitled to receive overtime pay of $17.63 per hour.

The overtime rate in Delaware, however, is applicable only to employees who earn $455 per week or $23,660 per year. Employees working in professional, administrative, and executive positions are generally not entitled to overtime pay.

Break Laws

Meal Breaks

If an employee in Delaware has a workday schedule of 7.5 or more hours, they are entitled to receive a 30-minute meal break. This time off of work must be granted if the employee finishes their first two hours of work for the day and two hours before they clock out.

This rule does not apply in the following situations: 

  • If the employer has only five or fewer workers on a shift.

  • If there is only one employee who can work in a position,

  • If the time of the meal break could affect public safety.

Rest Breaks

There are no specific laws in Delaware about providing rest breaks to employees. However, if the employee is a minor, they are entitled to take a break no longer than 30 minutes for every five hours of their shift.

Breastfeeding Breaks

Employers are required to provide a designated nursing room for employees who need lactation breaks. This is in accordance with the state’s Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

An employee is entitled to breastfeeding breaks for up to one year after their child is born. It’s up to the employer to decide how long breastfeeding breaks should be, as long as the time given is reasonable. Moreover, employees taking breastfeeding breaks must not be interrupted.

Delaware Workplace Leave Laws

Non-required Leave

Holiday Leave

Private employers in Delaware may require employees to work on holidays without having to pay more than the standard minimum wage.

However, if the employee works overtime during the holiday, the employer must pay them the standard overtime pay rate.

If holiday leave is granted to workers, they must follow the guidelines stated in their employment contract.

Vacation Leave

Similar to holiday leave, employees can be given either paid or unpaid leave from work for vacation. 

Although vacation leave is not mandatory in Delaware, employers may grant and regulate it according to the employee’s employment contract.

Bereavement Leave

Private companies are not required to provide paid or unpaid bereavement leave, even for the death of a family member.

However, the state government grants five days of paid bereavement leave to state employees who suffered stillbirth, miscarriage, or other loss in pregnancy. 

Voting Time Leave

Although employers are not required to give employees time off to vote, they are prohibited from coercing, controlling, or stopping an employee from exercising their voting rights.

An employee can take unpaid time off from work to vote as long as they inform their employer within two working days prior to the election.

If an employer prevents the worker from voting, the latter can sue their employer for violating Delaware’s election statute for $500.

Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Leave

This type of leave is not required in the state; however, employers can choose to grant their employees time off from work to address issues related to sexual assault or domestic violence.

State government employees are entitled to reasonable accommodations if they are victims of domestic or sexual violence

These accommodations can include changing their work schedule or duties to help them adjust in the workplace while addressing their issues related to sexual assault or domestic violence.

Required Leave

Jury Duty Leave

The law requires employers in Delaware to grant employees leave from work to perform their jury duties. They must pay these workers $20 as reimbursement for their out-of-pocket expenses, like parking or travel, if their jury duty exceeds one day.

The law also forbids employers from coercing, threatening, or terminating an employee for doing jury service.

Emergency Response Leave 

Delaware employers must allow employees who are fire police officers, firefighters, or emergency medical technicians to take a leave from work to respond to emergencies in the state.

Under the Volunteer Emergency Responders Job Protection Act, employers in the state cannot terminate, discriminate against, or demote employees for attending to their duties.

These employees should be given up to seven consecutive days of unpaid leave from work to respond to their governor-declared emergency duties.

If it’s the president who declares the emergency, the workers are entitled to 14 days of paid leave.

Military Leave

All employees in Delaware who are called for active duty and those who are members of the National Guard are eligible for military leave.

Sick Leave

Employers are required to give their employees in Delaware time to leave work for a minimum of one hour if they are sick.

Delaware is among the states that adhere to the Family and Medical Leave Act. In addition, the state passed the Healthy Delaware Families Act in 2022, providing employees who need to care for their families with paid leave. Under this law, employees can receive 80% of their salaries, which is up to $900 a week, while on leave from work due to health or family-related concerns. However, although the law was enacted in 2022, employees will only be able to access these benefits in 2026.

Child Labor Laws in Delaware

Hiring Requirement

Delaware allows minors to work as long as they are at least 14 years old. The state, however, does not require the issuance of Age Certification, so employers must conduct their own investigation or research to verify the age of the minor they are hiring.

In addition to the age requirement, minors must obtain a Work Permit, also known as an Employment Certificate, from the Delaware Labor Department or their own school.


The Delaware Child Labor Law applies to all employees who are less than 18 years old, except those who are:

  • Working as golf course caddies.

  • Delivering newspapers.

  • Performing nonhazardous farm work.

  • Working non-paid shifts for nonprofit or charitable organizations with their guardian’s consent.

  • Attending work shifts at their parent’s own business.

  • Doing domestic work for private homes.

Work Hours for Minors

If school is currently in session, minors aged 14 and 15 are not allowed to work more than 18 hours per week, which is equivalent to 4 hours a day. Meanwhile, if school is not in session, they can work up to 40 hours per week or 8 hours a day.

In addition, minors are not allowed to work before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. Only from June 1 until Labor Day can they be allowed to be on duty until 9 p.m.

For minors aged 16 to 17, working more than 12 hours per day is prohibited, regardless of whether school is currently in session.


If an employer hires a minor who has no permit to work, they will be charged with a civil penalty of up to $10,000. If the employer lies or gives false information to the Department of Labor regarding the minor’s age, they will be liable for a penalty ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 for each violation. The same penalty will apply if the employer discriminates against or fires a minor employee for exercising their rights, such as by complaining to the Department of Labor.

Is Delaware an At-Will Employment State?

Yes, Delaware follows at-will employment practices. Generally, employees can terminate their employment at any time, no matter the reason, without facing any consequences. Similarly, employers can fire workers at any time.

However, there is an exception to the at-will rule: An employer cannot fire an employee because of their race, age, gender, religion, disability, or other discriminatory reasons. Employers that fire employees based on discriminatory grounds will face penalties for wrongful termination.

What Qualifies as Wrongful Termination in Delaware?

If an employee is removed from their position for discriminatory reasons, the employer will be liable for wrongful termination under the Delaware Discrimination in Employment Act.

In addition to acts of discrimination, an employer cannot terminate a worker for exercising their rights to file a workers’ compensation claim or attending to their military and jury duties.  Reporting or refusing to partake in illegal conduct at work, whistleblowing, and union organizing are also unlawful reasons for removing an employee from work.

Another case of wrongful dismissal is when the employer fires an employee for reasons that violate public policy or an employment agreement.

How Do You Report an Employer in Delaware for Wrongful Termination?

You have various paths to take when filing a wrongful termination claim against your employer in Delaware. These actions will depend on the reason behind your dismissal from the job.

If you are fired for discriminatory reasons, you can submit a claim to the Office of Anti-Discrimination of the Delaware Department of Labor. They have two offices in the state, which are located at:

  • 425 N. Market Street, 3rd Floor, Wilmington, DE 19802.

  • 24 N.W. Front Street, Suite 101, The Windsor, Milford, DE 19963.

You can also file a wrongful termination complaint for discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Philadelphia District Office. You can contact the office by dialing (800) 669-4000 or by visiting it in person at 801 Market Street, Suite 1300, Philadelphia, PA 19106.

For other reasons for termination, like retaliation, whistleblowing, or breach of contract, you can work with an attorney to help with your claim. Having legal representation can also help you resolve issues that cannot be settled by the Delaware Department of Labor and the EEOC by filing a private lawsuit against your employer to recover the compensation you deserve.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Termination Cases in Delaware?

When filing a claim with the Office of Anti-Discrimination, you have 300 days from the wrongful termination to bring a complaint against your employer. For an EEOC filing, you must submit a claim within 180 days of the wrongful termination for discrimination. 

For contractual claims, such as breach of written and oral contracts, you have three years to file a wrongful termination case against your employer. If you suffer emotional distress because you were illegally dismissed or if the reason for your termination violates public policy, you can file a tort claim with a two-year statute of limitations.

How Much Can Someone Sue an Employer in Delaware for Wrongful Termination?

The settlement amounts for wrongful termination cases in Delaware, as in any state in the U.S., are calculated based on the employer’s reasons for terminating the worker. This amount also counts the employee’s lost benefits and wages, along with their job search costs and mental distress. 

The average settlement payout for wrongful termination claims in the state is between $6,000 and $100,000. 

Resources for Employees in Delaware

Delaware Legal Help Link

The Delaware Legal Help Link offers free service to the public. Its justice community partners and nonprofit civil legal aid providers deal with topics that include employment, disability, domestic abuse, housing, and immigration. For its employment-related solutions, it assists with a variety of issues, such as unemployment compensation, employment discrimination, and sexual harassment.

Delaware State AFL-CIO

Delaware State AFL-CIO focuses on helping employees in Delaware join or form a union. It helps Delawareans understand their rights in the workplace and determine which union is right for them. Its website also has links to the different unions in the state, making it easier for employees to find the one that suits their needs.

Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement

The Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement has been working with people in the community since 1986. It offers support in a variety of areas, including employee recruitment, education, diversity, strategic planning, and awareness-building. DANA also provides customized consulting and training designed to help leaders, employees, and nonprofit boards organize their policy issues and business strategies.

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