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Jury Service – What Employers Should Know…

What is Jury Service?

Jury Service is a public duty within the UK, where individuals can be called to serve on active UK court cases such as assault, fraud and murder. As it’s a public duty, fines can be issued against individuals who do not turn up for jury service.

An analysis by the BBC judged that the probability of being asked to serve is around 40% over a lifetime [1].

Key points

  • Employers must allow an employee time off for jury service, although employees can ask for a delay if it will harm the business, but can only delay once in a 12-month period.
  • Jury service in most cases is an average of ten working days but may be longer or shorter depending on the case.
  • There is no legal obligation for an employer to pay an employee while on jury service as the court will pay certain costs.
  • Anyone on the electoral register aged between 18-70 may be selected.

Do I need to give my employee time off?

Employers must allow an employee time off should they get called upon to serve a jury. An employee cannot be discriminated against or dismissed as a result of their jury service, as they would have a right to bring an employment tribunal claim.

How long does Jury Service take?

The government advises that jury service usually last up to 10 days, however, this can be longer in some cases. If a judge has been informed that a case is likely to last much longer, they will raise this with jurors and allow them the opportunity to apply to be excused from serving, or for their service to be deferred to a later date.

An employee called for jury service should tell their employer as soon as possible that they have been summoned, when they will need time off and if possible how much. If the employee is not needed at court then they should return to work unless something different has been agreed upon beforehand.

Do I carry on paying an employee on jury service?

Legally, employers are not required to pay an employee whilst out of the business on jury service as the courts can pay for loss of earnings, travel costs and a subsistence rate during jury service. However, companies can decide to continue to pay employees as a gesture of goodwill.

The Company’s policy should reflect how the employee will be paid whilst on jury service so it is clear and fair to all employees.

Can we defer the employee’s jury service?

The employer can ask for an employee’s jury service to be deferred if the employee’s absence would cause serious harm to the business. The employer would need to write a letter explaining why. In addition, an employee can defer their jury service should they already have a holiday or operation booked.

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.

It is good practice for companies to have a clear and robust policy, which may form part of an employee handbook that outlines the company’s stance on jury service.

This would include how an employee notifies an employer of their summons for jury service and what the arrangements would be while the employee was on jury service and payment.

If you would like further guidance or support on this matter or require advice on other people management matters please contact Clover HR on 0330 175 6601 or email us at info@cloverhr.co.uk


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