When you have employees that are called away on jury service, it can be difficult to know your legal obligations towards payment and their rights. Should you allow them time off? Do you have to pay your employee? Or can they claim for loss of earnings from court? It is a tricky issue that can impact on HR and your staff.
What is jury service?
Everyone on the electoral register from the ages of 18 to 70 can be called for Jury service. It is a public duty, where jurors usually try more serious criminal cases such as murder, assault, burglary or fraud. Unless someone is disqualified, has the right to be excused or has a valid reason for discretionary excusal then they must do their jury service..
On average, jury service lasts for ten working days, but may be longer or shorter depending on the case.
Government obligations for jury service
Gov.uk states that employers must let employees have time off work, but you can ask staff to delay jury service if their absence will have a serious effect on your business.
The government website also says that the employer can choose whether or not to pay employees during their service. If you don’t, employees can claim for loss of earnings from the court.
Jury service process
Notify employees that they should tell you or their line manager as soon as possible if they have been summoned for jury service, when they will need time off and if possible how much. You need to receive a copy of the letter confirming the jury service.
If employees are not needed at court they should return to work unless you have agreed differently beforehand.
You must give employees the right to time off if they are called for jury service. They must not be dismissed or treated detrimentally because they serve on a jury including being selected for redundancy, where the reason is connected to their jury service.
As Acas states, employees can bring a claim for unfair dismissal in relation to jury service by making a complaint to an employment tribunal if they are dismissed or suffer detriment for taking time off for jury service.
Should my business pay?
Courts can pay for loss of earnings, travel costs and a subsistence rate during jury service, or your business can pay your employee as normal.
There is no clear answer to whether you should pay your employees for the time they are doing jury service, or if you should ask them to claim for loss of earnings through the courts. Circumstances and businesses differ, and you should take decision carefully.
It is always helpful to consult a HR expert in order to define the right approach to jury service and your employees. For more information, contact me today