It’s happened, hasn’t it? One of your employees has been called up for jury service, and you don’t know what this means for your business.
Well, you’ve come to the right place. Because we’ve got the answers to your most common jury duty questions. Here’s everything you need to know…
What is jury service and who can get called up?
Jury service is where people are selected at random to sit on the jury in court cases. The judge oversees the trial, but the group of 12 jurors decide whether the defendant is guilty or not.
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 around 10 days’ notice before they’re due in court, so make sure all your staff know to inform you as soon as possible if they get called up, to give you enough time to make arrangements.
I need my employee at work—can I refuse to let them do jury service?
In a word, no. Jury service is a public duty and the law says people can’t opt out. If your employee refuses to do jury service they could face a £1,000 fine, or even an arrest—this is serious stuff.
But there is something you can do. If it’s a bad time for your business, 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 we 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 in work, do I still have to pay them?
No. Lots of employers choose to do so as a gesture of goodwill, but it’s not a legal requirement. And when you run a small business, you might not be able to afford to pay your staff when they’re not in work.
But, you can support your employee by filling out a Certificate of Loss of Earnings form. This lets them request a loss of earnings allowance. This is a payment made by the court to jurors while they’re off work, and the amount is usually somewhere between £32 and £64 per day.
A common approach for employers is to help their employee get the allowance and then top it up to their normal salary, but this is totally up to you.
Will the court pay for replacement staff?
Unfortunately not. Whether you decide to share out the workload between your existing workforce, put some new overtime options in place or take on a temporary member of staff, it falls on you, the employer, to make adjustments for your employee’s absence.
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?
Call BrightAdvice today. Our experts can answer all your HR and employment law questions, and our helpline is open 24/7. So whenever you need legal advice and support, we’re just a phone call away.
Phone us now on 0800 783 2806.