The summons to jury service, also called jury duty, comes without warning. And it’s a big shock for employees and bosses alike. But don’t panic. Here’s how to stop jury duty from costing your business…
Find out as soon as you can
The courts will not let you know if they have chosen a member of your staff for jury duty. It’s up to your employee to tell you.
Once your employee has received a summons, they have about ten days before they are due in court. Include a policy in your company handbook that lets staff know that they must tell you about absences in advance. Make sure your employees see and sign this policy.
Try to defer if you have to
If losing your employee to jury duty is going to damage your business, then you can write a letter to the court to ask for a deferral. This could push your employee’s jury duty back by up to 12 months.
Your employee must co-sign the letter and return it to the court within seven days. But bear in mind, the courts only grant deferrals in exceptional cases.
You shouldn’t count on them accepting your application.
Don’t pay your employee if you can’t afford to
You don’t have to pay your employee while they’re on jury duty. The court will pay a loss of earnings allowance. It’s up to you and your employee to apply for this.
Download and fill out a Certificate of Loss of Earnings form. Your employee needs to take this with them to court on their first day of jury service.
The court won’t give your employee their exact wage. For example, over the first ten days, your employee can only claim £64.95 per day.
If you can afford it, it may be worth adding to this loss of earnings allowance to make sure your employee isn’t out of pocket. It helps to keep them happy and motivated when they return to work.
Arrange cover for your employee
Hopefully, your employee will give you at least a week’s notice before they go on jury duty. Use that time to arrange cover.
Remember, you won’t know how long jury service will last. Most cases are over in less than two weeks, but a few can last up to a year.
In the short term, share out the workload among your workforce. Consider offering overtime, but be careful you don’t break the average 48-hour week maximum set out in the UK’s Working Time Regulations.
You may need to hire temporary workers, too. If you’re not looking for a permanent team member, set up a short-term contract. This will help you keep your business staffed until your employee returns.
Four steps to becoming jury duty ready
Jury duty is random. You can’t predict it. You can’t stop it. But you can prepare your business today so it isn’t affected. Here’s how:
- Update your leave policies so staff know they need to give you as much notice as possible when they’re summoned for jury duty.
- Work out who is responsible for picking up tasks when team members are off.
- Make sure your contracts allow staff to work paid or unpaid overtime.
- Plan for short-notice recruitment and use fixed-term contracts.
When you follow these steps, you’ll not only protect your business against jury service. You’ll also be safe against any unexpected absence.
Get expert help to protect your business. Speak to a Peninsula HR specialist about writing watertight absence policies and contracts today. Call 0800 028 2420