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Why Maternity Leave is Becoming Extinct

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More and more new mothers are taking less and less time off. Here's why.

allison sweeney

In the new issue of People magazine on newsstands Friday, Alison Sweeney says she was back on the "The Biggest Loser" set just eight days after the birth of her daughter - and returned to her role as Sami Brady on soap opera "Days of Our Lives" just six days after that.

She's not alone.

The upcoming April issue of W magazine features a story called "Born Yesterday: The Ever-Shrinking Maternity Leave," where New York professionals discuss going back to work just days or weeks after their babies were born. For many, this is becoming the norm.

With the economy the way it is, many women feel they can't take a few months off -- especially since, for most, the majority of that time is unpaid. Actual paid "maternity leave" -- while the norm in every other developed country -- is unusual in the United States. Out of 168 nations in a Harvard University study, 163 had some form of paid maternity leave, leaving the United States in the company of Lesotho, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland. We're the only 4 countries in the world who don't offer paid leave to new mothers. Shocking.

Most women here use a combination of short-term disability (STD), sick leave, vacation, personal days, and unpaid family leave during their time off to bond with baby. But more and more moms are returning to the workplace faster just to put food on the table.

Even if women can AFFORD to take off four months, many say it hurts their career later. They can't climb the corporate ladder or play with the "big boys" if they are out of the office for three or four months at a time.

How do you feel about shorter maternity leaves? Is this no biggie, or are women robbing themselves and their baby of bonding time they'll never get back?

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22 comments so far | Post a comment now
Mo January 23, 2010, 12:14 AM

Unfair????? Boo Hoo!!! How about the coworkers and bosses that have to bend over backwards to rearange their schedule to cover your desk/cubicle in order for you to take your Maternity Leave.
Why should it be the companies duty to pay you for Maternity Leave. The companies are not responsible for you getting pregnant so why should they be obligated to pay you for your leave? I think companies should not be obligated to have to pay you for your Maternity Leave. Getting pregnant is a decision not something out of your control like getting sick.

Ten Tees January 9, 2011, 2:23 PM

Great information! Good reading. I have one opinion to submit about funny t-shirts.

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