You’ve set your sights on an exciting new project, got your people in place and are ready to hit the ground running. Then it happens. A key member of staff informs you that they have been selected for jury service.
“You’re joking!” is quite possibly the reaction you want to give. Until they hand you a very official letter to show you that they are not. After this you’re probably wondering if you can get them out of serving and what counts as a valuable excuse. Believe it or not, passable excuses in the past have included somebody in the US having a weak bladder and someone else simply not believing in the law!
Desperation can do all sorts. But before you go too far into thinking up reasons for them not to attend, it’s worth noting that jury service can develop a person’s skills and be a beneficial experience. From problem solving to working in a team or removing emotions and channelling logical thinking. These are all transferrable skills that could be an asset to your business.
Who can be called for jury service? Jury service is a public duty, and anyone aged between 18 to 70 on the electoral register can be selected.
Selection is random and although we all know that being chosen for jury service is a possibility, it can still seem out of the blue and feel like a disruption to day-to-day business.
What do I need to do? At this point your employee is going to be looking to you for guidance. And you may have questions of your own on what you need to do next. An employee being out of the office for jury duty could have an impact on your project plans, and so a rethink might also be required.
Follow a process. What may have seemed like a curveball being thrown into your day can be managed by following a clear process.
First, it’s important to note that jury service can typically last about 10 working days, although it can be shorter or longer depending on the case. So the employee is potentially going to be absent for this length of time.Can you rearrange or postpone a project, or bring in cover to keep business running as usual?
If, after considering this, it appears that the employee’s absence will cause harm to your business, you can request a deferral. You can only do this once in a 12-month period, so consider whether it is the only option at this time.
If the employee will be attending jury service, you are under no obligation to pay them. They will be able to claim back a loss of earnings payable by the court. You’ll need to complete a certificate for them to be able to do this.If their loss of earnings allowance is less than their usual pay, you may decide to pay them the difference. If you do pay the employee during jury service, be sure to calculate their tax and national insurance as usual.
Take note of enhanced employment protections. Employees missing work due to jury service are legally protected from unfair treatment and dismissal.