What to do if an employee is called up for jury service

Giving staff time off for jury service might not be an occurrence that payroll managers have to deal with on a regular basis. However, the chance of being called up for jury service at least once in your lifetime is around 40%, so it’s certainly a situation that employers should be prepared for.

Anyone between the ages of 18 – 70 can be called up, and they might receive as little as 10 days’ notice before they’re due in court. As an employer, you need to make a number of difficult decisions very swiftly, so it’s important to be aware of your rights and responsibilities when an employee is sent a jury summons.

Here, the AMR payroll team answer all your questions about what to do if your employee is called up for jury service.

How long does jury service last?

What to do if an employee is called up for jury service

Usually, jury service lasts 10 days. However, in serious and complex cases, it can last for much longer. Jurors will be notified in their summons if this is the case, so you should ask your employee for all the information they have. If you are going to lose them for a significant period of time you will want to be prepared.

I need them at work, can I tell them to refuse jury service?

In short, no. It is illegal for an employer to refuse to allow an employee time off work if they have been summoned for jury service, and individuals can receive a £1000 fine, or even be arrested, for not turning up.

If your employee’s absence will seriously damage your business, you can ask for a deferral, but remember that your employee will still have to complete their service at a different time, and they can only change their dates once.

You can be excused from jury service if you’ve done it in the last two years. If this is the case for your employee, it may be reasonable for you to ask them not to serve – however, they can still choose to do so.

How do I get a deferral, and would I qualify?

To receive a deferral, you must submit a written application to the court explaining why your employee’s absence could have a serious effect on the health of your business. You also need to agree three possible alternative dates within the next 12 months and specify these to the court.

The deferral application must be submitted together with the Reply to Jury Summons form, which the court must receive within a week of your employee receiving their summons.

Courts only accept correspondence directly from the juror so you must agree everything with your employee. You can’t take matters into your own hands and communicate with the court yourself. 

Do I have to pay employees during jury service?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions about jury service. Employers are not required to pay employees who are on jury service, although many businesses choose to do so as a gesture of goodwill.

If you’re a SME who can’t afford to pay staff who aren’t working, you can still support employees by completing a Certificate of Loss of Earnings form. Jurors can request a loss of earnings allowance of up to £64 a day, paid by the court.

A common approach is to apply for the allowance and top up your employee’s earnings to their normal salary.

Can employees work remotely during jury service?

Not everyone called up for jury service is selected for trial. If they are not chosen, your employee will be held in a waiting room, where they will be allowed a laptop. If this is the case – and you have chosen to pay your employee throughout their service – you could give them some remote tasks. However, it’s best not to rely on this, so you should plan as if they will be selected for trial.

If I need replacement staff, will the court pay?

Unfortunately, the court does not offer any financial support to businesses affected by staff shortages caused by jury duty. The costs of any adjustments you make as an employer, such as hiring freelancers, paying overtime or taking on temporary members of staff, will fall on your shoulders.

Nevertheless, businesses often find that staff cope well when an employee is on jury service. It can even be a positive experience, giving existing members of staff the opportunity to take on temporary responsibilities and learn new skills.

Do I need to form a company policy around jury service?

It’s not a requirement, but forming a company policy around what you offer employees who are called up for jury service – and presenting this information in your employee contracts – can help to prevent any payment disputes because your employees know what to expect ahead of time. It also means that, in the case of an employee being called up, employers will have fewer decisions to make in a short period of time.

If you need help with any aspect of your bookkeeping and payroll (or even if your payroll manager has been called up for jury service!), AMR Bookkeeping Solutions offers expert support to businesses throughout the South East. Give us a call on 01892 559480, or get in touch via our online enquiry form here.

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