What happens if my employee is called up for jury service?

An employee being called up for jury service can come out of the blue. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

First published on Thursday, Aug 13, 2020

Last updated on Monday, Feb 12, 2024

3 min read

Have you ever had one of your employees summoned for jury service, and not sure how it will affect your business? Look no further.

We have the answers to your most often-asked questions about jury service. Here's everything you need to know…

What is jury service and who can get called for it?

Jury service is a legal process where random people are selected to form a group of 12 jurors in court cases. While the judge presides over the trial, the jurors decide whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty.

Anyone on the electoral register aged between 18 and 70 can be called up. And we’re guessing that’s the majority of your workforce.

Jurors get a notice of approximately 10 days before their court appearance.

So, it’s important to ask your employees to inform you as soon as possible if they are called up. This will give you enough time to arrange alternative arrangements.

Can I refuse to let my employee do jury service?

In a word, no. Jury service is a public duty, and the law says people can’t opt out.

You also can’t discriminate against your employee for attending jury service. And if you dismiss your employee for going, they could take you to an employment tribunal.

On the other hand, if your employee refuses to do jury service, they could face a £1,000 fine or even an arrest. This is serious stuff.

But if it’s an inconvenient time for your business there is something you can do. You might be able to defer your employee’s jury service...

So, how do I sort out a deferral?

For jury duty exemptions you need to make a written application to the court explaining how your employee’s absence will seriously damage your business. You should also offer alternative dates (agreed with your employee, of course) in the next 12 months.

Your employee attaches this application to their Reply to Jury Summons form, which they have to return within seven days of being summoned.

And you must follow this process. The court only accepts correspondence directly from the juror (your employee), so you can’t decide to take matters into your own hands. You and your employee need to make the application together.

If I don’t defer, does my employee get time off work for jury service?

Yes, if your employee’s jury hours clash with their usual working hours, you’re legally required to give them time off work. For example, if they work a 9-5, they won’t have to come into the office while on jury service, which is typically on weekdays.

If your employee’s working hours fall outside the hours of jury service, such as working night shifts, the law is less definitive. But you should always follow these government guidelines:

“Jurors should not be made to work night shifts before they are due in court, or work weekends if this means they do not have a break from either jury duty or their job for seven days.”

So, if they’re not at work, do I still have to pay them?

It’s not a legal requirement for employers to pay their staff when they are attending jury service, although many choose to do so as a goodwill gesture. For small businesses, it may not be financially possible to supply such pay.

But, you can support your employee by filling out a Certificate of Loss of Earnings form, which should be included with their jury service letter. This lets them request a loss of earnings allowance.

This allowance is a payment made by the court to jurors while they’re off work, and the amount is usually somewhere between £32 and £64 a day.

A common approach for employers is to help their employees get the allowance and then top it up to their normal salary, but this is up to you.

Will the court pay for replacement staff?

Unfortunately, not. As the employer, it’s your responsibility to make necessary adjustments for employee absences, such as sharing the workload, offering overtime, or hiring temporary staff.

But don’t worry, jury service only lasts 10 days on average, so it won’t be long until you can get back to business as usual.

Got a question we’ve not answered?

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