Jury Duty

Jury duty is a necessary and important civic service, and employers must have jury duty policies that delineate how they will handle such service. Both federal and state laws affect what employer jury duty policies say about how long employees may be absent, whether or not (and how much) they must be paid, and when a postponement can be a legitimate business need.

FAQs About Jury Duty

1. Can an employer require an employee to apply for a postponement of jury duty during its busy period?

The courts will usually excuse an employee from jury duty if the company can demonstrate extreme hardship. Merely being inconvenienced is not enough justification for most courts, however. If the employee refuses to apply for an exemption, there isn’t really much a company can do about it, unless the absence could cause the company irreparable harm.

On the other hand, a company can get into a lot of trouble if it tries to discharge, discriminate, or retaliate against employees because of jury duty. Some states have their own laws protecting employees from retaliation and specifying payment.

Remember these tips when an employee is called for jury duty.

  • Inform employees about their obligation to the company once they’ve been summoned. Let them know how much notice you need so you have time to prepare a request for postponement or to make arrangements to cover the employee’s work.
  • Keep in mind that employees did not volunteer for jury duty. Don’t threaten them as if they were going on an extended vacation.
  • Make sure the employees understand any obligation they have to report to work when released early or when not required for court duty. Many of those who are called for jury duty never get to serve. They are usually free to leave after they check in with the court.

 

2. Is there any law that states that employees must be paid for the time they spend on jury duty leave?

Under the Jury Systems Improvement Act, an employer has the right to limit the number of paid jury duty leave days employees can take each year. An employer may not terminate or otherwise discipline an employee for serving on a jury, and cannot limit the number of unpaid jury duty leave days an employee takes, but it is not obligated to pay for every day the employee serves.

Keep in mind that many states have jury duty leave laws of their own, some of which do specify that employees be paid for a certain number of jury duty leave days. Make sure you check with your state’s law to make sure you stay in compliance.

 

3. How much notice can employees be required to give of the need for jury duty leave?

Company policy may specify that employees should notify their supervisors immediately after receiving a summons.

 

4. What types of evidence can an employer require employees to produce as proof of a call to jury service?

Usually a summons will suffice, but documentation furnished by the court clerk at the completion of jury duty may also be requested.