Working mothers in U.S. taking less maternity leave: Survey

40 per cent take six weeks or less
||Last Updated: 05/09/2012

One-quarter (26 per cent) of working mothers who have had a child in the last three years did not take the full maternity leave allowed by their company, according to a CareerBuilder survey of 601 working mothers and 729 working fathers with children 18 and under.

While most working mothers who’ve had a child in the last three years (44 per cent) reported taking more than eight weeks of maternity leave, 12 per cent said they took two weeks or less. Two-fifths were off work for six weeks or less.

Financial pressures are also playing a key role in how mothers are managing time at work, said CareerBuilder. Thirty-nine per cent of working moms and 43 per cent of working dads reported they are the sole financial provider in their household.

But working dads who are the sole breadwinners were almost twice as likely to earn $50,000 or more and were about three times as likely to earn six figures as working moms. Women were much more likely to earn less than $35,000 compared to men.

Working mothers

Working fathers

Earning less than $35,000



Earning $50,000 or more



Earning $100,000 or more



Women continue to feel the tug of war between the office and home, wishing for more time to balance both, found CareerBuilder. One-quarter (25 per cent) of them feel they have to choose between their children and being successful at their jobs. Twenty-four per cent reported they have missed three or more significant events in their children’s lives in the last year due to work obligations.

When asked how much time they’re able to spend with their children during the workweek, one-half of working moms said they average around four hours of quality time each day. However, 22 per cent reported they get to spend two hours or less with their children each day and six per cent spend less than one hour per day.

“As more moms assume the sole or primary breadwinner role in their households, they’re feeling increasingly torn between providing financial security for their families and having quality time at home,” said Hope Gurion, chief development officer at CareerBuilder. “The pay disparity between working moms and dads has improved over the years, but is still significant. More working moms are seeking out second jobs to supplement incomes and flexible work arrangements to afford more family time.”

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