Jury service is an important civic duty, but employee jury duty leave can be inconvenient for all. Here’s what to know and consider for your company policy.
Jury service is an important civic duty. But the ensuing absence from work can be extremely inconvenient for both employers and employees.
The duration for which an employee might serve jury duty is unpredictable. In many cases, so is what they’ll earn for any given pay period therein. What if a member of your staff is gone for weeks or months? Are you prepared to accommodate employees serving jury duty without disruption in the workplace? Can they afford the extended time away if necessary? What will your employees and your Human Resources team need to manage the potential effects of jury duty leave?
Here we’ll cover policies that address jury duty leave concerns for all.
What’s the impact of employee jury duty leave?
U.S. citizens 18 and older who reside in the locality where the jury is needed may be called to serve if they qualify. They will typically first be summoned to report or remain on call during a jury-selection process. This on-call period may last a week or more. Those who are chosen will then be required to serve for the duration of the trial. A trial could last from a day to weeks to more than a month.
It’s important for employers to have procedures in place for smooth operations when a worker needs jury duty leave. Other employees may need to cover hours and responsibilities so that things still get done in the employee’s absence.
Importance of employee jury duty policies
It’s a good idea to create an employee jury duty policy that addresses concerns in advance about taking time off work to serve on a jury. Let’s explore what to include in a jury duty policy to help keep business running smoothly during employee leave.
What to include in a jury duty company policy
Design your jury duty policy to address common questions employees will have if they receive a jury summons. For most companies, that means starting with what information you’ll need them to provide.
What employers need to know and when
When an employee receives a jury duty summons, the employer or HR department should be notified by the recipient within 24 to 48 hours. If it does not conflict with local or state laws, employers may ask to see the employee’s jury duty summons for the record. Employees should then keep employers updated about what, if any, day(s) they need to report to court.
Employees who are selected to sit on a jury should provide their employer with:
- The date their jury duty service is scheduled to start.
- How long the judge expects the trial to take. (The duration of the trial cannot be guaranteed, but having an estimate often helps.)
- In some jurisdictions, employers are permitted to require employees to provide proof of their ongoing jury duty service.
While it typically won’t be necessary, documenting all the information in an official leave of absence letter can be helpful to employers and HR teams. Employees can easily obtain proof of jury duty service and reporting from the court upon request.
State and federal laws
Minimally, employees must give employers reasonable advance notice and shall not be punished, discriminated against, or fired for taking unpaid jury duty leave.
Federal law 28 U.S. Code § 1875 (2) protects employees summoned to jury duty from being discharged, threatened of being discharged and/or intimidated by their employer. Those who fail to comply with this law may be subject to paying damages to the employee as well as civic penalties.
Local and state laws can vary regarding how they require employers to handle certain details and protocol. That includes whether they can require proof of an employee’s jury duty service.
To find your state law, call or search online for your state’s jury duty administrative regulation. This can often be found within a state government’s judicial section of their website or by calling or visiting a local courthouse administration office.
Employee jury duty pay
In your jury duty policy, explain whether or not you will pay your employees for their time off work. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, the federal government doesn’t require employers to pay employees during jury duty leave. Still, some employers choose to pay employees their normal salary for up to a number of days’ or weeks’ worth.
Can states require that you pay your employee for jury duty?
While federal labor laws don’t require that you pay employees serving jury duty, your state might. Currently, employers in Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, and Tennessee may be obligated.
Jury duty pay: special circumstances
If an employee is putting in work hours as well as serving on a jury, this might affect how much pay the employer is required to provide. It might also determine whether or not they can make up any work they missed.
Another thing to consider is what to do if employees are summoned to more than 2 weeks of jury duty. For these situations, where permitted, consider adding a clause about using paid time off to your company’s employee jury duty policy. Again, check your state laws. Several prohibit employers from making employees use other types of leave for jury duty.
Benefits and healthcare for employees on jury duty
Include in your jury duty leave policy how employee benefits and health insurance are handled. In most instances, they should remain the same if the employee continues to contribute their share of the payments. Do you have a specific procedure for employees to continue paying what would have normally been taken from their paychecks? Explain that process.
Your jury duty policy should be concise and easy to read and understand. Remember to include the timeframe in which you expect advance notice and explain your policies about regular pay and compensation during leave. It should also conform to all applicable jury duty laws.
By having this policy in place, employees will know what to expect if they’re called to jury service. And you’ll have the time needed to cover their shifts and workplace obligations.