Employees on Jury Service: Employers FAQs

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In this guide for employers, we outline your responsibilities if an employee has been called up for jury service.

 

What is jury service?

Jury service is a public duty. Anyone aged between 18 – 70 can be chosen at random from the electoral register to serve on a jury.

 

Do you have to give employees time off for jury service?

Under the Juries Act 1974, employers cannot legally refuse to allow an employee time off work when they are summoned to serve on a jury. An employee must not be discriminated against or dismissed because they are called for jury service, or they may have grounds to bring an employment tribunal claim.

 

How long are jurors away for?

Jury service can last up to ten days, usually from 10am to 5:30pm Monday to Friday, but it can be longer in some situations. If a judge learns that a case will take significantly longer than expected, they will warn jurors and give them the option of being excused from service or having their service deferred to a later date.

An employee who has been summoned for jury duty should notify their employer as soon as possible, stating when they will require time off and, if possible, how much time they will need. Unless something else has been agreed upon beforehand, the employee should return to work if they are not needed at court.

 

How will I find out if an employee has been called up for jury service?

It is your employee’s responsibility to inform you. The courts will not inform you if a member of your staff has been selected for jury duty.

Any person summed for jury service needs to respond within seven days confirming they can attend, unless they have a valid reason for the date of service to be changed. Include a policy in your company handbook stating that employees must notify you in advance of any absences. Make sure all of your staff are aware of the policy and have signed it.

 

Do you have to pay employees while on jury service?

You are not required to pay your employee while they are serving on a jury. A loss of wages allowance will be paid by the court, along with travel costs and a subsistence rate during jury service. It is up to you and your employee to fill out the Certificate of Earnings Loss form. On the first day of jury duty, your employee should bring this with them to court.

Jurors can claim up to £64.95 per day in court for loss of earnings and any additional care or childcare costs accrued as a result of doing jury service. They can also claim their travel expenses to and from court, and £5.71 per day to contribute towards the cost of food and drink.

However, employers may decide to continue to pay employees as a gesture of goodwill, or opt to pay a higher rate than the loss of earnings allowance.

 

Can you ask for an employee’s jury service to be deferred?

If you believe that losing an employee to jury service will harm your business, you can file a letter to the court requesting a postponement.
This could cause your employee’s jury duty to be postponed for up to a year.

Within seven days, your employee must co-sign the letter and deliver it to the court. However, keep in mind that deferrals are only granted in rare circumstances.

In addition, jury service can only be deferred once in a 12-month period, the employee should provide details of any dates they’re not available within a 12-month period when deferring to ensure they can make future dates.

Any person summed for jury service has to respond within seven days confirming they can attend, unless they have a valid reason for the date of service to be changed, otherwise they could be found in contempt of court. The reasons that jury service can be moved or postponed include:

  • Sitting an exam during this period
  • Pre-booked life events such as a holiday or wedding
  • Having an operation (and other medical reasons)
  • Becoming a new parent

 

In all of these cases, the person summoned needs to provide three possible dates in the next twelve months when they would be able to complete their duty.

 

Can employees work while on jury service?

Not everyone who is summoned to serve on a jury is assigned to a case. Potential jurors must wait in the courtroom until they are summoned and sworn in as members of the jury panel. Before returning to work, your employee may spend the complete ten days in the waiting room.

If your employee is in the waiting area, they have the right to use their laptop at that time to complete remote duties. You should, however, prepare as if they’ve been chosen for a trial, which means they’ll be inaccessible during the working day.

 

Can you dismiss someone for going on jury service?

Employees who are called up to serve as jurors are protected by the law from dismissal or detriment (less favourable treatment).

Under the Agency Workers Regulations 2010, agency workers with more than 12 consecutive weeks’ service (in the same role, with the same employer) are also protected.

 

How to prepare if an employee is going on jury service

Implement a policy on time off work for jury duty, setting out the employee’s responsibilities and entitlements, including whether leave will be paid or unpaid and also sets out a brief overview of the procedure to follow.

Before going on jury service, your employee should give you at least a week’s notice. Make use of that time to put together a cover.

Remember that you won’t know how long you’ll be on the jury. The majority of cases last less than two weeks, although some can continue up to a year.

Share the task among your employees in the short term. Consider offering overtime, but make sure you don’t exceed the UK’s Working Time Regulations’ maximum of 48 hours per week.

It’s possible that you’ll need to hire temporary personnel as well. Set up a short-term contract if you don’t need a permanent team member. This will allow you to maintain staffing levels in your business till your employee returns.

 

Need assistance?

DavidsonMorris’ HR specialists support employers with all aspects of workforce management, including rights and responsibilities relating to leave of absence. Working closely with our employment lawyers, we provide comprehensive guidance to minimise legal risk while ensuring commercial goals are achieved and employee engagement is optimised. For help and advice, speak to our experts.

 

Employees on Jury Service FAQs

Do employers have to give time off for jury service?

An employer would be in contempt of court if they refused to give an employee the required amount of time off for jury service.

Can employees work while on jury service?

Workers would usually be expected to attend work for any full days they are not required in court. If the worker is only required to attend court for part of the day, they would be expected to attend work if reasonably practicable.

Can employers ask to defer an employee's jury service?

Employers cannot apply for an excusal or deferral on behalf of an employee, but they can write a letter supporting the employee's application, such as if the employee's absence would cause the company organisation problems.

Last updated: 17 May 2022

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