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Must We Give Time Off for ‘Witness Duty’?

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Q. We have an employee who has been subpoenaed to appear as a witness in a criminal case. She obviously has no choice but to go. Are we required to pay her while she is off, or can we have her take vacation time or an unpaid leave of absence? —C.S., Pennsylvania

A. The rules surrounding pay for jury-duty time are state law issues, not a federal issue. That said, although Pennsylvania law requires that employers provide an unpaid leave of absence to employees who are called to serve on juries, that law doesn't extend to employees who are subpoenaed to appear as witnesses. So, you're under no obligation to provide paid leave when an employee is subpoenaed and such absences may be subject to disciplinary action.

Although they're not legally required to do so, most employers allow employees to use vacation, personal and/or sick leave when subpoenaed to appear as a witness in court. When subpoenaed employees have exhausted their paid leave banks, the general rule would be to permit an unpaid leave of absence.

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