What Is Jury Duty? Leave, Pay, and More

How Must Employers Respond to Your Jury Duty Request?

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Interested in knowing employer specifics about jury duty? Jury duty occurs when an employee receives a summons from a Federal or state court to appear on a particular day and time to potentially serve on a jury.

A jury is a panel of people who are assigned to render a verdict in a case submitted to them. To render a verdict is to decide whether an individual who has been charged with a crime is guilty or innocent.

When a prospective juror arrives at his or her assigned court, the first task is to fill out a questionnaire and participate in the jury selection process.

An employee who was called for jury duty is either picked to serve on a jury or dismissed. If dismissed reasonably early, an employer can expect the employee to come to work for the day.

The usual process involves the potential juror calling the court the night before he or she has been asked to report for jury duty. At that time the juror may be informed that services are not needed for that day.

In fact, the employee may never have to show up at court and can serve jury duty without ever serving as a juror. On the other hand, the employee can be selected to serve on a jury that goes on for months. An employer’s jury duty policy needs to take all of these factors into consideration.

Jury Duty Leave

Jury duty leave provides a paid or unpaid absence from work when an employee is required to report for jury duty.

Jury duty availability is mandated by law. Thus, employers in almost every state are required by law to provide an employee with the time off work that is necessary for jury duty.

If the summons to jury duty occurs at a time of the year when the employer would experience significant impact from the loss of the employee, the employer may write a letter to the court.

The court will consider the employer and employee's request for postponed jury duty on a case by case basis.

Employee Pay and Jury Duty: State Courts

Because the laws vary from state to state, while developing your company jury duty policy, check with your state department of labor and the US Department of Labor to ascertain the laws that govern jury duty in your state.

In some states, employers are told how long an employee must be allowed to serve on a jury. In others, employers must continue to pay the employee while he or she is on jury duty.

The majority of states leave an employer's jury duty policy up to the employer. But, some state laws specify what the employer must pay, usually the same as the jury duty pay for the first x days an employee is on jury duty.

Then, for additional days of jury duty, the state court system pays the employee the going rate for jury duty. Other states specify that the employee must be paid his or her regular pay while reporting for jury duty.

Some states do not allow an employer to subtract jury duty time from an employee's paycheck. Requirements vary also based on whether an employee works for state, Federal or local government or for a private sector employer.

Additionally, by Federal law, employers are prohibited from taking adverse job actions such as employment termination against an employee who is required to report for jury duty. Adverse actions can include harassment, threatening or trying to coerce the employee related to the jury duty. An employee must be allowed to report back to work following his or her jury duty.

Employee Pay and Jury Duty: Federal Courts

According to the US Department of Labor:

"An employer cannot make deductions for absences of an exempt employee due to jury duty, serving as a witness or military leave. The employer may offset any amount received by an exempt employee as jury fees; witness fees or temporary military pay for a particular week against the salary due for that particular week. The employee need not be paid for any workweek during which he or she performs no work; for example, when an employee is on temporary leave for military duty for the entire workweek."

According to the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, “Federal law does not require employers to pay their non-exempt employees’ wages for jury duty. Employers are, however, required to (1) consider employees on a leave of absence during jury service; (2) continue their insurance and other benefits according to established leave of absence policies; and (3) reinstate employees to their positions without loss of seniority.”

Employees and Paid Jury Duty Leave

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require payment for time not worked by an employee, including reporting for jury duty. This type of paid leave benefit is usually a matter of agreement between an employer and an employee or the employer and the employee’s union representative.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2010, of employees who work in state government, 94% receive paid jury duty leave. Of employees who work in local government employment, 90% receive paid jury duty leave. Federal employees receive their regular salary while they perform jury duty.

In the private sector, 68% of employees receive paid jury duty leave. The percentage of workers who receive paid jury duty leave varies widely and is based on the job title, job level or classification, type of work, industry, and national location.

For example, 85-88% of managerial employees receive paid jury duty leave. 85% of union represented employees receive paid jury duty leave, but only 49% of service industry employees did. (Check the linked chart for specifics about your job titles, industry and location.)

The average percentage of employees who receive paid leave for jury duty across all industries, except for the Federal government and private households, is 72%.

See a sample jury duty policy that presents best practices for an employer of choice who wishes to retain skilled employees.

Disclaimer – Please Note:

Susan Heathfield makes every effort to offer accurate, common-sense, ethical Human Resources management, employer, and workplace advice both on this website, and linked to from this website, but she is not an attorney, and the content on the site, while authoritative, is not guaranteed for accuracy and legality, and is not to be construed as legal advice.

The site has a world-wide audience and employment laws and regulations vary from state to state and country to country, so the site cannot be definitive on all of them for your workplace. When in doubt, always seek legal counsel or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources, to make certain your legal interpretation and decisions are correct. The information on this site is for guidance, ideas, and assistance only.