Readers will perhaps be surprised to learn that there is no statutory right for an employee to take time off in relation to jury service. However, employees are protected from being subjected to a detriment or from being dismissed as a result of being summoned to fulfil a period of jury service. Employees who are subject to a detriment will be able to bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal. Employees who are dismissed in connection with their jury service will be able to bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal for automatically unfair dismissal. Both of these claims do not require an employee to have a certain amount of service with an employer, and so could be brought from day one of their employment. Employers should therefore allow employees to attend jury service if possible.
That said, an employee will not succeed in a claim if their employer can show that:
- The circumstances were such that the employee’s absence for jury service was likely to cause substantial injury to the employer’s organisation.
- 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 defer their attendance on jury service and their refusal or failure was not reasonable in the circumstances.
Providing evidence of “substantial injury” and that the employee’s failure to apply to be excused or to defer the jury service was “not reasonable” is clearly a tall order for an employer. Therefore, in most cases employers should allow employees to attend jury service. Employers should also avoid pressurising employees into applying to be excused from or to defer jury service as this may be considered as a detriment.
There is no set amount of time for jury service (although two weeks is the norm) so it can be difficult to predict when the employee will come back to work.
On the question of pay, employers are not required to pay an employee during their absence for jury service. The employee can claim for expenses and loss of earnings from the Court. However, employers can choose to continue remuneration as a matter of policy, or will be obliged to pay if this is specified in the employee’s contract of employment.
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