Liz Ben-Ishai is a senior policy analyst at the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). She works on job quality issues, advocating for paid leave and fair schedules. Prior to joining CLASP, she was a researcher and campaign coordinator at Public Citizen and a political science professor at a liberal arts college in Michigan. She is also mom of two.
Blog Post List
March 1, 2017
The United States is long overdue in embracing policies that would make it easier for working families to both do their jobs and care for their families. In his first speech to Congress, President Trump expressed his desire to make child care affordable and ensure new parents have access to paid family leave. Unfortunately, his campaign promises and proposals to-date do little to advance public policy in these areas and run counter to getting help to those who need it the most. In the United States, just 14 percent of civilian workers have access to paid family leave to care for a new child...
December 12, 2016
“Mommy, you do…de-de-democracy.” That was my daughter’s recent assessment of my career. As a three-year old-her grasp of the term ‘democracy’ may be slightly tenuous, but her comment left me both amused and reflective. Does our work trying to improve the quality of jobs in the U.S. count as democracy? On the third anniversary of the introduction of the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act , I’m going to do what any beaten-down parent of a strong-willed three year old would: acknowledge that she’s right. Indeed, a bill like the FAMILY Act—which would help tear down barriers to...
August 4, 2014
Could it be that workers whose employers offer leave benefits actually end up getting sick less often because they are happier? Senator Al Franken (D-MN), tongue firmly in cheek, proposed this “radical” idea at a hearing on paid leave held by the Senate Health Economic Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee’s Subcommittee on Children and Families.
June 9, 2014
In honor of Father’s Day, coming up later this week, I’m pleased to share a special guest post from Scott Behson . Scott is a Professor of Management at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He also writes a popular blog about work-family balance for fathers, Fathers, Work and Family . Scott frequently appears in media outlets as an expert commentator on fatherhood and work-family issues, and this week he’ll be a speaker at a White House convening on the roles and challenges of working fathers. I’m impressed by Scott’s commitment to the importance of fatherhood and the role that all fathers –...
May 5, 2014
Mothers often act us “uniters” in families, whether it’s settling petty sibling squabbles, or managing the more serious rifts and challenges that so many families face. And, more and more, moms bring families together as primary or sole breadwinners. Given this role, perhaps it’s not surprising that public policies to support working moms – and all working parents for that matter – also tend to unite Americans. In 2014, let’s celebrate Mother’s Day by calling upon Congress to follow moms’ lead and come together around a national paid family and medical leave insurance program . Here in the...
March 27, 2014
For Karen, a part-time package delivery person and mom to a one-year-old, making child care arrangements is a weekly exercise in scrambling. That’s because Karen receives notice of her schedule only one week in advance, and her shifts fluctuate. The volatility of her schedule makes everything harder. Karen struggles to find friends and family to care for her baby on short notice. And when she can’t work the magic necessary to arrange child care on the fly, she is disciplined at work for being late or missing a day. Karen’s story, recounted in a 2011 report from the Institute for Workplace...
February 5, 2014
A 20th anniversary is an important milestone. But turning 21? Although exciting for young adults, it’s a slightly less momentous number for a law. So, with the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) a year behind us, 21 is a good time to roll up our sleeves and get to work, improving upon the law. On this anniversary, policymakers, advocates, and businesses are calling for Congress to do more for working families. The FMLA provides some workers with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to care for a new baby, tend to a sick family member, or...
December 12, 2013
When fast food workers bravely took to the streets in September to protest the unlivable wages that many earn, the media shone a spotlight on the exploitative and unsustainable practices of some large employers. But while these unscrupulous businesses deserve all the attention they are getting, they don’t represent the majority of business owners. In fact, many workers are lucky enough to work for businesses that truly care about them—businesses that know the value of their employees and want to do what’s right for them, including ensuring access to paid leave. As Rob Everts , co-executive...
August 31, 2013
Shaniqua , a 20-year-old mother, works for McDonald’s in New York City, where she can rarely get 40 hours a week. She struggles to afford food, diapers, and other basics. Nick , a McDonald’s worker in Indianapolis, survives on $800 per month while caring for his chronically ill mother and disabled brother. Medical bills from a recent sinus infection cost him nearly a month’s wages. Dearius , an assistant manager at a Memphis Church’s Chicken, says fast food workers are tired of struggling to provide for their kids. And Shonda , a 38-year-old mother of three who works at a KFC in Oakland, says...
August 15, 2013
Having the time to bond with a new baby is crucial for many reasons. One reason why those first weeks after a baby is born are so vital is the importance of the breastfeeding relationship. However, for many mothers, that relationship is soon disrupted – as many as a quarter of mothers return to work less than 10 days after the birth of their child, and half are back at work within 40 days . Breastfeeding can and does continue once women return to work – the new federal healthcare law is helping to ensure that employers provide the accommodations that breastfeeding moms need. But to get off to...
August 13, 2013
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s press conference last month announcing the House Democrats Economic Agenda for Women and Families, “When Women Succeed, America Succeeds,” ended with Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez’s speech highlighting the importance of the Agenda to small businesses. Congresswoman Velazquez is certainly an example of women succeeding; she is one of the few women (and the first Latina) to chair a full committee in the House. Velasquez is the ranking Democrat on the House Small Business Committee, which represents a community not always associated with support for policies like...