Allowing time off work

Time off for public and judicial service and duties


Employees holding certain public positions are entitled to reasonable unpaid time off to perform their duties. These roles include:

  • Lay Magistrate, sometimes known as a justice of the peace
  • a member of a district council, the Northern Ireland Library Authority (Libraries NI), relevant health or education bodies, a policing and community safety partnership, or a district policing and community partnership
  • member of any statutory tribunal, an environmental agency, or of the boards of prison visitors

Time off for public duties - nidirect guidance.

Employees can refer their complaint for determination by an industrial tribunal or statutory arbitration if they are unreasonably refused time off for public duties or dismissed for asserting the right to time off for public duties.

Jury service

You must not dismiss an employee or subject them to a detriment for having been summoned to participate in jury service.

The employee would not need a year's continuous employment to lodge an unfair dismissal claim - and any such dismissal would be seen to be automatically unfair by an industrial tribunal.

Employees are not protected against unfair dismissal if after you have told them you believe your business will be seriously harmed by their absence, they unreasonably refuse or fail to apply to have their jury service deferred or to be excused from it. Not all applications are granted, this is subject to a judicial decision.

You do not have to pay staff while they are doing jury service, unless the employee's contract permits this. An employee who is not paid during absence from work on jury service may however claim compensation for loss of earnings from the court. This will require the employer to complete a certificate showing the employee's loss of earnings. An allowance sheet outlining the maximum amounts allowable for loss of earnings is handed out to the members of the jury pool on the first day of service. See jury service - nidirect guidance.

To learn more about your responsibilities as an employer of a juror, see information for employers of jurors.

Lay Magistrate duty

You must allow employees who are lay magistrates time off to perform their duties.

While you are not legally required to pay employees on lay magistrate service, many employers choose to do so.