Employee rights and jury service

2015-08-13 Philip posted:

One in 20 (5%) employers don’t pay employees for attending jury service, according to research from Churchill Home Insurance.

Those not paid can claim a loss of earnings allowance from the court. However, for jurors serving for four hours a day for 10 days the maximum amount they can receive is £32.47, which falls significantly short of minimum wage (roughly £48.75 per day).

More than a third (34%) of UK employers said they would not pay an employee’s salary for more than five days if they were called up for jury service. One in 10 (11%) staff would be paid their usual salary for only one day.

What are an employee’s rights?

Rather than being granted a direct right to take time off in relation to jury service, employees are instead protected from being subjected to a detriment, or being dismissed because of being summoned to attend for service as a juror or being absent from work on jury service. In this roundabout way, employers must therefore allow employees to take jury service, subject to certain conditions below.

An employee will lose their automatic protection from unfair dismissal if the employer can show that:

  • The circumstances were such that the employee's jury service absence was likely to cause substantial injury to the employer's business.
  • The employer brought those circumstances to the attention of the employee.
  • The employee refused or failed to apply to the court to be excused from, or to obtain a deferral of, the obligation to attend.
  • The employee’s refusal or failure was not reasonable.

Employees should ideally give as much notice as possible to the employer if they are summoned, so that the possible effect on the business can be considered. An employer may take the view that a failure to bring the matter to its attention until the last minute is a form of misconduct.

Is there a right to payment?

Employers are not required to pay employees during jury service absence, leaving the employee to claim for travel and food expenses and for loss of earnings from the court. Non-payment of the employee's pay during jury service absence is not regarded as a detriment, unless the contract of employment provides for such.

Does the employer have any discretion as to how or when time may be taken?

If the absence is likely to cause substantial injury to the employer's business, the employer may require the employee to apply to be excused or to defer their jury service. However, if the employee's jury summons remains in force, the employer has no control over when the employee must be permitted to take leave.

* If you are wondering why there is a photo of former President George W Bush a the top of this article, he was summoned to appear as a juror at a Dallas courthouse earlier this month.

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