Wilmington, Delaware – The Delaware Department of Labor (DOL) has named Chris Counihan to the newly created position of Healthy Delaware Families Act Implementation Manager.
Counihan, who joined the department August 29, will be responsible for the rollout of the new insurance program that will impact families, workers and employers throughout Delaware.
Chris brings a tremendous amount of experience to the new role including previous stints in the insurance industry and in public policy. Most recently, he served as Legislative Aide to the New Castle County Council where he worked on policy research and initiatives, including paid family leave.
Counihan will report directly to Delaware Department of Labor Secretary Karryl Hubbard.
Delaware Gov. John Carney signed the Healthy Delaware Families Act in May 2022, which created the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program (PFML). The legislation makes Delaware the 10th state along with Washington, D.C. to offer a paid family and medical leave for many of its workers.
“We are pleased and excited to have Chris join us to help DOL implement such a consequential piece of legislation that will affect so many Delawareans,” said Hubbard. “His expertise in data analysis and insurance underwriting will be invaluable building out a benefits program that will help so many Delawareans.”
The new law, which is largely based on the Federal rules of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) program that has been in place since 1993, is designed to replace up to 80 percent of a covered individual’s average weekly wage and job-protected leave including caring for a child during their first year of life and caring for a family member with a serious health condition. It also provides up to 12 weeks of leave to employees covered by the plan. Contributions to PFML will begin January 1, 2025.
Employees, who will be responsible for half of the cost of the program, will be able to use the paid leave program beginning January 1, 2026. Employers with at least 10 employees in Delaware will be required to contribute to the fund.
Counihan, who will be hiring a team to rollout the plan, said he expects to learn from some of the more successful state programs in the Mid-Atlantic Region – Maryland, Virginia and D.C. – that have rolled out these paid benefits in recent years.
“As an early adopter of PFML coverage, the state of Delaware will benefit from the experience of states that already offer this coverage,” Counihan said. “Our aim is to make the implementation of this coverage as smooth as possible for the thousands of employers and hundreds of thousands of employees who will benefit from this program.”
Delaware Department of Labor connects people with jobs, resources, monetary benefits, workplace protections and labor market information to promote financial independence, workplace justice and a strong economy. The department consists of four divisions: Division of Employment & Training; Division of Industrial Affairs; Division of vocational Rehabilitation; Division of Unemployment Insurance.