Maternity leave: What can you legally ask?

Q. What questions can we ask a pregnant employee about her impending maternity leave and if/when she’ll be returning to work? — M.M., Ohio

. This can be a touchy subject, but it’s really quite simple. Employers should ask questions that: (1) presume the employee intends to take leave at the time of her choice and return to work at full capacity when that leave expires; and (2) focus on business and operational issues.

For example, employers should ask how long the employee wishes to take maternity leave, and when—not if—the employee intends to return to work. Do not bring up part-time schedules. Let the employee ask about returning part-time if that’s what she wants. Otherwise, you may appear to be discouraging the employee from returning to work or from returning full-time.

For more advice: Access our free white paper on this topic, Pregnancy & Maternity Leave: A Legal Guide and Sample Policy.