Allowing time off work
Information for employers of jurors
There is a statutory obligation for employers to allow jurors to attend court. If you have an employee who has been selected to serve as a juror, it may have a significant effect on their ability to attend their place of work.
Length of jury service
Jurors usually try the more serious criminal cases which are heard at the Crown Court, such as assault, burglary, fraud, or murder. Juries are also sometimes required at Coroner's Inquests. The majority of individual trials last only a few days, however, a typical jury can remain in place for up to four weeks (during this time, the same juror can be selected to sit on more than one trial).
Some trials, however, can take weeks, or even months, to complete. It is difficult to estimate at the outset exactly how long each witness' evidence will last or what factors may delay or reduce the length of the trial and the estimated length can change at any stage. You should bear this in mind when making plans for staff cover during periods of absence because of jury service.
The court will keep the jurors informed of the estimated length of the trial as it progresses. If at any time you have any queries you can contact the relevant court office - see jury panel information from the Department of Justice.
All jurors are selected entirely at random, from the initial selection of people from the electoral register through to the selection of the 12 jurors who form the jury. Usually a panel of 15 to 18 potential jurors is taken to the court at the start of a trial from which the 12 jurors are selected.
For a long trial, however, the trial judge may request a larger panel. Jurors will not be excused from jury service unless they have a valid reason. It is for the judge to decide whether there is a valid reason for excusal from jury service.
Contact with your employee during their jury service
There may be occasions during the course of the trial when the court is not sitting and the jurors are not required. Jurors are encouraged to keep in contact with their employers during such breaks, either by temporarily returning to work (if they are allowed to by their employer), or discussing with a colleague or manager anything work related which has occurred in their absence. They are not allowed to discuss the details of the case with anyone.
Jurors' allowances are set by law and the court has no discretion to exceed them. Allowances cannot be paid to anyone other than the juror. A claim form entitled 'Claim for Payment' is included with the summons for jury service. An information leaflet entitled 'Allowances for Jury Service' is handed out on the first day of service. You may also request a hard copy by contacting the Customer Service Centre on Tel 0300 200 7812 or you can view it online. Jurors can claim three types of allowance: travel; subsistence allowance; and financial loss.
Travel: Reimbursement of standard rate public transport fares, or a set mileage rate if the juror has to drive.
Subsistence allowance: An allowance of up to £5.71 if they are away from home / work over five hours but less than ten hours, or up to £12.17 if they are away from home for longer than ten hours. This meal allowance is only payable if a meal is not provided at public expense. Receipts for any meals bought in these circumstances must be provided and the juror can only claim for the amount spent up to the maximum of the appropriate allowance. Most courthouses provide jury lunches when required.
Financial loss (Including loss of earnings): Financial loss, which incorporates any loss of earnings, reimburses any loss as a direct result of jury service up to daily maximum limits. The maximum payable doubles from the 11th day of jury service onwards. The maximum limits are for total financial loss so if, for example, a juror is claiming for loss of earnings and childcare on the same day then the maximum relates to the combined loss.
The maximum rates are:
For the first ten days:
- For a period not exceeding four hours: £32.47
- For a period of more than four hours: £64.95
From the 11th day onwards, the maximum limit increases to £129.91 per day.
The maximum limits are for combined/total financial loss to include:
- loss of earnings
- National Insurance contributions
- pension contributions
If a juror is not being fully paid whilst on jury service they can claim back any shortfall up to the daily maximum. If they are losing more than the maximum, the balance cannot be paid by the court.
If a juror losing earnings wishes to claim financial loss, you as their employer must complete the 'Employer's Certificate' at the back of the claim form on the jury summons, certifying their net daily loss. If they do not earn the same rate each day then an average figure should be used.
The court cannot reimburse loss of earnings without a valid 'Employer's Certificate'. Payment by the Courts and Tribunals Service is made to the juror and any arrangement for employers to recoup wages is a matter between the juror and their employer.
Employers topping up loss of earnings
Many employers with an employee on jury service will continue to pay them whilst on jury service. Other employers will not pay those employees entitled to full reimbursement by the court, but will top up the loss for those losing more than the maximum.
For example, if a juror earns £80.00 per day net, but can only claim £64.95 per day in the first ten days, the employer may pay the juror £15.05 net so they do not lose out.
National Insurance contributions whilst on jury service
Your employee may wish to make a National Insurance contribution for the weeks when they were not able to work because they were on jury service and claim it back under the financial loss allowance. This will apply if you do not pay them whilst they are on jury service or if any earnings they receive are less than the Lower Earnings Limit for National Insurance contributions. This is £120 per week for the 2020-21 tax year.
Even if they had lower earnings during the period of jury service, they may not need to be credited with contributions. Because employees' National Insurance contributions are earnings-related, it is possible to pay sufficient for the tax year to count towards future state pension entitlement in a much shorter period. They need only apply for contributions to be credited for periods of jury service to make up their record if they are told that they have a deficient record for the tax year in question, either when they make a claim for benefit in the future or they get a deficiency notice.
If you are paying a contribution towards your employee's pension that ceases because they will not be working for you for a significant period of time due to their jury service, the loss of pension contributions can be covered by the financial loss allowance. Jurors will be required to provide proof of the contributions, and also proof that their employer is ceasing to pay these contributions during the period that the employee is on jury service. This is also subject to the maximum daily allowance threshold.
It would be useful for you to talk to your employee about their pension scheme so that they understand whether and how payments will be made whilst they are on jury service and whether they need to account to you from the sums paid by the court as allowances (if any).
The court can only pay allowances to the juror and not to any third party such as you as their employer. Therefore, if they are claiming their pension contributions under the financial loss allowance, they should remember that the allowance will be paid to them and it is their responsibility to pay the amount of contributions lost back to you. You and your employee should agree the procedure for this.
Jurors employed by a recruitment agency
If you are a recruitment agency and one of your employees is called for jury service during a contract to work for an employer, you should fill out the 'Employer's Certificate', reflecting what they would have earned during their period of jury service. It will be necessary for you to state either in a separate letter or on the certificate when the contract is due to expire.
If they are called for jury service just before they start a contract for work, they will have to provide evidence of that contract along with their daily net pay and the duration of the contract.
If they are not working through your agency or they do not have a forthcoming contract, the court cannot pay any loss of earnings allowance.
Some business insurance policies have provisions for losses incurred as a result of jury service. They can cover losses due to employees being called for jury service or may also cover any losses incurred as a result of rearranging a business trip. You should carefully read through your policy (if you have one) to check its terms.
The Employment Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 2004
The Employment Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 2004 (Article 20) outlines employers' responsibilities when their employees are summonsed for jury service.
The Order protects employees from any detriment that they might suffer as a result of jury service. This might occur if, for example, a juror was prevented from going back to the same job or was being excluded from pay awards or promotion opportunities as a result of their jury service. Some jobs require skills which need to be current, so an employer who insists on retraining after a long absence eg for safety reasons, may not necessarily be imposing a detriment.
Protection is also given to employees against employers who unfairly dismiss them for performing jury service.
Further jury service
When a jury sits on a trial which the judge deems to have been particularly difficult or demanding for the jury, he has discretion to give the jurors the right to be excused for as long a period as he thinks fit (this could even be for life), depending upon the circumstances. If they are excused at the end of a trial and are called again they should contact the court office.