So what should you do if a key member of staff is called up for jury service? What are your rights and can you refuse to allow them time off to sit as a juror?
Jury service is a public duty and anyone on the electoral register aged between 18 and 70 may be selected for jury service. Jurors are selected at random by computer from the electoral register.
Unless someone is disqualified, has the right to be excused or has a valid reason for a discretionary excuse then they must serve if they selected.
Jury service usually lasts up to 10 days, but can be longer.
Do I have to give my staff time off to attend jury service?
If you have an employee who is called up for jury service then legally you must give them time off to attend.
If you feel that allowing them time off for jury service will seriously harm your business then you can ask your employee to make an application to delay their jury service. You will need to provide your employee with a letter setting out the reasons why you want them to delay their attendance.
You need to be aware that your employee can only delay jury service once in a 12 month period, and they must state on the jury summons when they will be available. A jury officer will make a decision on any deferral and may arrange new dates for service. Jury service may only be deferred once for up to a maximum of twelve months from the original date.
Do I have to pay staff whilst they are jury service?
You are under no legal obligation to pay staff who are on jury service, but many employers choose to do so. If you carry on paying your employee, work out the tax and National Insurance contributions in the normal way.
You cannot claim back money that you’ve paid the employee or that the business has lost during the jury service.
If you don’t pay your employee, they can claim a loss of earnings allowance from the court. You will need to complete a certificate of loss of earnings for your employee.
If you decide that you wish to top up their allowance. To work out the top-up payment, subtract the court allowance from your employee’s usual take home pay. This will give you the amount you need to give your employee. You will need to calculate the ‘net to gross’ amount, and deduct tax and National Insurance from it.
When your employee returns to work
An employee on a cumulative tax code may have some unused Personal Allowance when they return to work. You will need to work out if they have less tax to pay on their next payday, or if they’re entitled to a tax refund.
The reality is that other than asking your employee to defer their jury service, there is little that you can do to stop a member of staff attending jury service. Employees have a legal right to time off and not to be dismissed or face any detriment for serving on a jury, if they do, they have the right, under certain circumstances, to bring a claim for unfair dismissal against you.
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HR Services Director