New Jersey debating whether to extend family leave from 6 to 12 weeks

 Parents and caregivers rally outside NJ Statehouse and urge Christie to sign the family leave expansion bill. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Parents and caregivers rally outside NJ Statehouse and urge Christie to sign the family leave expansion bill. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

A coalition of parents and caregivers is urging Governor Christie to sign legislation expanding New Jersey’s Family Leave program. 

Jesse Burns, the executive director of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, says a few months after finding out she was pregnant, her mother-in-law was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

“No one should be forced to choose between caring for their dying mother or bonding with their newborn daughter. But because of the low wage replacement and limited time allotted under the current family leave program that is exactly the decision my husband had to make.”

The legislation would double the amount of paid time available from six weeks to 12, increase the wage replacement, and expand eligibility to more family members including grandparents and siblings.

Lawnside resident LaShaunda Carter said it would allow her to take paid time off from her job to care for a sister with Lupus. 

“I’m not able to leave work and help out with the things that she needs. Not only that, we have two other sisters that we could also rotate if this was signed by Christie.”

The New Jersey Business and Industry Association said the family leave expansion would hurt the state’s business climate and wants Christie to veto the legislation.

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