Sample Policy: Jury-Duty Leave
The following sample policy was excerpted from The Book of Company Policies, published by HR Specialist, © 2007. Edit for your organization’s purposes.
“If you are called to serve jury duty, XYZ encourages you to fulfill your right and duty as a citizen. Time off will be granted for the duration of your jury duty. Please provide your jury duty summons to your supervisor as soon as possible so that proper arrangements can be made to cover in your absence. You will receive your full salary for time spent on jury duty up to ten (10) business days. You will also be eligible for employee benefits as if you were actively employed during an approved jury duty. In the event you are dismissed from jury duty early on any day, you must report to work for the remainder of the day. In the event you are summoned to appear in court as a witness, you are allowed unpaid time off.”
Jury duty is a key public policy consideration and a civic duty for all able adult citizens. As a result, you have to allow employees time off to serve, but in most states you are not required to pay them while on jury duty. In states that require you to pay employees while they serve, the amount varies from full pay for the entire length of their service to so much for up to so many days.
Few states specifically forbid you from requiring employees to use vacation or sick days while on jury duty. But you are better off avoiding such a tactic because it could leave you liable under the legal theory of “public policy torts.” Under this theory, employers are liable for damages if their actions violate public policy. In most states, trying to intimidate workers from serving jury duty (by forcing them to use vacation days) violates public policy.
More than half the states have blanket policies that make it illegal to terminate employees who serve on juries. In those states you are required to hold open a job for employees who are selected for jury duty.
Specify in your policy whether employees will be paid for jury service and, if so, for how long. Some options:
- Full pay for the entire period of jury service.
- Partial pay for the entire period.
- Full pay for up to so many days and partial or no pay after that period.
Some employers that pay the employee’s full salary while they are on jury duty require the employee to endorse to the company the jury pay they receive—a practice that employees will perceive as fair so long as it doesn’t come as a surprise to them.
Given the wide variation in state laws, you should contact your attorney before formulating a written policy.