Employment and Jury Service
If you are called for jury duty, you may be worried about what it could mean for your job. After all, your employer may not be happy for you to take time off, even though a typical jury service stint will not last longer than ten days. If your employer is unwilling to pay you while you are away, you may be worried about how you are going to keep the bills paid.
Fortunately, there are legal mechanisms in place to ensure that you don’t lose out as a result of taking your place on a jury.
Time off work for Jury Service
You should notify your employer as soon as you receive your summons giving them plenty of time to make any arrangements to prepare for your absence.
If you are called for jury service, your employer must give you time off to attend. An employer who refuses an employer time off for jury service can be held in contempt of court, and they could find themselves in court, facing a hefty fine or even a prison sentence.
However, they can ask you to try and have your jury service delayed – this request may be honoured if your employer has good reason to believe that your absence would cause considerable damage to their business. If you refuse to try and have your jury service delayed, it could harm your case if you try to take them to an employment tribunal later.
Although your employer must give you time off to attend jury service, there is no obligation for them to pay you while you are away, unless your employment contract demands it. If your employer doesn’t agree to pay you during your time on the jury, you can ask your employer to fill in a Certificate of Loss of Earnings – this certificate will allow you to claim for lost earnings, alongside any other expenses you claim for. Make sure you bring this certificate with you to your first day at court.
If you are self-employed
Proving your loss of earnings will be more difficult if you are self-employed. If this is the case, you will need to provide evidence if your lost income – a tax return, or a letter from your accountant outlining your average daily income, for example.
If you are unable to produce evidence of your lost income, talk to a member of staff on your first day at court.
Constructive and Unfair Dismissal
In addition to not preventing you from going on jury duty, an employer cannot punish you or hold your jury service against you, before or after your stint on the jury – this would be discrimination. If you are dismissed by your employer, or you are treated unfairly by them or an employee in any way, you could have a case for taking them to an employment tribunal.