Jury service is essential to the running of the criminal justice system
Anyone between the ages of 18-70 can be called for jury service unless they fall into one of the four exempt categories. The exemptions primarily relate to certain job types and those who have recent criminal convictions.
Most of our clients and their employees are unlikely to be exempt from participating in jury service. If you have an employee who has been summoned for jury service, you may have a few questions about how this affects your business.
Do I have to allow my employee time off?
If an employee informs you that they have been summoned for jury service, you cannot refuse them time off to participate in this service.
The jury summons letter will provide the employee with the date they are expected to attend court. There are limited circumstances for which the juror could ask to change the date of jury service to another date within the next 12 months such as: if they have an operation, exam, holiday, they are a new parent, or their employer will not give them time off work due to their absence seriously harming the business. The date can only be changed once.
As an employer, you cannot use the employee’s time off for jury service as a reason for dismissal. This will result in the dismissal being ‘automatically unfair.’ Likewise, you cannot discriminate against your employee for attending jury service.
The jury service process can be unpredictable and may cause an interruption to the business. Whilst jury service is typically expected to last no longer than 10 working days, this is not guaranteed and will depend on the type of case being tried. With the exception of the first date of attendance, jurors will not know beforehand the specific time and dates they will be expected to attend court. Therefore, it is recommended you communicate with the employee throughout the service period to confirm whether they have any dates available to attend work, even if it is for a half day. However, it is also advised you have arrangements in place throughout the 10 days (or more) to cover the employee’s absence.
Do I have to pay my employee if they are on jury service?
Unless the employment contract states otherwise, you do not have to pay your employee for their time off for jury service. The court will reimburse the employee for their loss of earnings during their time at court. You can, however, choose to pay your employee.
Your employment contracts may not have a clause relating to pay for time off for jury service. Before agreeing to pay the employee for their jury service time, you should be cautious and consider this may set a precedent for other employees.
The employee will be given a ‘certificate of loss’ form for you to complete. The form is self-explanatory and simply requires you to confirm the employee’s days and hours usually worked and their hourly rate of pay.
The amount paid by the court for the employee’s loss of earning is capped and the amount that can be claimed depends on the hours spent at court each day and the length of jury service. At the time of writing, the pay is currently capped at the following rates –
For the first 10 days of jury service, employees can claim up to:
- £64.95 per day if you spend more than four hours at court
- £32.47 per day if you spend four hours or less at court
After 10 days, the employee can claim:
- £129.91 per day if you spend more than four hours at court
- £64.95 per day if you spend four hours or less at court
Some employees may earn more than the capped amount. You may, therefore, wish to consider topping up their payment so they do not suffer a loss. The employee will need to keep a record of the time and dates they attended court so that the top up amount can be calculated.
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