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A key employee has been selected for jury service - can you say no?

Our FAQs answer this and other questions you may have about jury service.

Do employees have a legal right to take time off work to sit on a jury?

No, but they are protected if they are dismissed or otherwise subjected to a detriment (such as being demoted) for being absent from work on jury service. 

Employees don't need two years service to claim unfair dismissal in these circumstances.

Which staff are protected? 

These rights only apply to employees, not other workers such as agency workers, or casual staff.

How much notice does the employee have to give? 

There are no strict time limits that apply, but you should expect your staff to give you as much notice as possible so that you can consider how to manage their absence and, if necessary obtain cover.

Larger employers often have policies which set out what they expect an employee to do if he/she is summoned to attend jury service.    

Can we limit how much time the employee takes off to attend jury service? 

No. The amount of time that an employee may be required to serve on a jury is not fixed. This can cause problems because you may not know immediately how much time off will be required. Some people are only asked to attend for a week or two and may in that time hear a number of short cases. Other cases can go on for months and this can cause much more difficult operational issues.

Do we have to pay staff absent on jury service? 

No, although some employers do elect to do so, usually for a limited period of time. You should pay the employee for any time they do work - such as during the evenings or while they are waiting to be called in.

Employees who are not paid by their employers at all, or who only receive a 'top up' payment instead have to apply to the court for loss of earnings and to claim for travel and food expenses.  The rates that apply are capped and are dependent on the length of the individual’s jury service and increase after two weeks.  The first 10 days are paid at a maximum daily rate of £32.47 which will only compensate those on very low incomes.  It is unsurprising therefore, that employees who don't receive their normal pay are often reluctant to attend as this can put them severely out of pocket.

You will have to complete a Certificate of Loss of Earnings that the employee can use to claim loss of earnings.

If you elect not to pay your employee during jury service, they can’t complain about this at a tribunal or civil court. 

Can we ask the court to defer jury service? 

No, but you can ask your employee to apply to delay or be excluded from jury service if it will cause significant problems for your business.  If the employee applies for a delay, he/she is expected to give dates when they are available to undertake jury service.  The employee will only be able to delay once in a 12 month period.

You can't make an application on behalf of your employee, but can provide a supporting statement.  Anecdotal evidence from employers suggests that it is becoming more difficult to persuade the court to defer or exclude an individual even when there are strong business grounds to support the application. 

If the employee doesn't apply to defer or excuse themselves, the jury summons remains in force.  If the employee doesn't turn up for jury service on the agreed start date, he/she can be fined £1,000.

Need more information?

Please contact our partner, Kirsty Ayre if you need any help dealing with an employee attending jury service or you would like to develop a policy on jury service.

Our fixed price employment law service

If you are interested in finding out about how we can support you with our fixed-fee annual retainer, or flexible discounted bank of hours service, please contact Rachel Hetherington: or: 44 (0)121 203 5355 for a no obligation quote.