Working Moms Taking Less Maternity Leave

May 10, 2012 ( - The struggle to balance career and family starts in the earliest stages of parenthood, according to CareerBuilder’s annual study of working moms. 
One in four (26%) working moms who have had a child in the last three years reported they did not take the full maternity leave allowed by their company. One in 10 took two weeks or less.

Competitive work environments and demanding positions may be causing more women to reduce their time off from work after delivery. While most working moms who’ve had a child in the last three years (44%) reported taking more than eight weeks of maternity leave, 12% said they took two weeks or less. Forty percent were off work for six weeks or less.

Financial pressures are also playing a key role in how moms are managing time at work. Thirty-nine percent of working moms and 43% of working dads surveyed by CareerBuilder reported that they are the sole financial provider in their household. Working dads who are the sole breadwinner were almost twice as likely to earn $50,000 or more and were approximately three times as likely to earn six figures as working moms. Women were much more likely to earn less than $35,000 compared with men.

Women continue to feel the tug of war between the office and home, wishing for more time to balance both. One in four (25%) working moms feels she has to choose between her children and being successful at her job. Twenty-four percent reported they have missed three or more significant events in their children’s lives in the last year because of work obligations. 

When asked how much time they’re able to spend with their children during the work week, half of working moms said they average around four hours of quality time each day. However, nearly three in 10 reported getting to spend two hours or less with their children each 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, and a mother of two. “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.”

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive on behalf of CareerBuilder among 601 working moms and 729 working dads of kids 18 and under living in household (employed full-time; not self-employed; non-government) ages 18 and over between February 9 and March 2, 2012.