Q. One of our employees received a jury duty summons. What are our obligations toward the employee in terms of pay and leave?
A. Pursuant to California Labor Code Section 230, as long as an employee, prior to taking time off for jury duty, gives reasonable notice to the employer that he or she is required to serve, the “employer may not discharge or in any manner discriminate against an employee for taking time off to serve as required by law on an inquest jury or trial jury.”
Employers are not required to pay their employees any wages for time spent serving on a jury unless a contract or union agreement provides otherwise. However, employers may have to payif they have performed some work during the same week in which they were out on jury duty leave.
Note also that many employers voluntarily choose to pay full or half wages for a specified period of time (such as for two weeks) to employees who are selected to sit on a jury.
Regardless of whether employers choose to provide paid or unpaid leave to employees, it is important to have a clear policy that is uniformly enforced.
For example, due to the Labor Code’s prohibition against discrimination against employees who are subpoenaed or called for jury service, employers’ jury duty leave policy should be consistent with their other policies for taking time off for nonpersonal or nonvoluntary reasons.
In addition, an employee may use vacation, personal or compensatory leave for the duration of the time during which they are on leave to respond to a jury summons or to serve on a jury.