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Jury service

Key points

  • Employers must allow an employee time off for jury service, although employee's can ask for a delay if it will harm the business, but can only delay once in a 12 month period.
  • Jury service in most cases is an average of ten working days but may be longer or shorter depending on the case.
  • There is no legal obligation for an employer to pay an employee while on jury service as the court will pay certain costs.
  • Anyone on the electoral register aged between 18-70 may be selected to service.

Jury service is a public duty; jurors usually try more serious criminal cases such as murder, assault, burglary or fraud. Unless someone is disqualified, has the right to be excused or has a valid reason for discretionary excusal then they must serve. All jurors are selected at random by computer from the electoral register. Everyone on the electoral register from the ages of 18 to 70 may be selected even if they are not eligible to serve on a Jury. Some people never get called; others get called more than once.

Jury service is on average ten working days, but may be longer or shorter depending on the case the juror is on. Employees should tell their employer as soon as possible that they have been summoned, when they will need time off and if possible how much. If they are not needed at court they should return to work unless something different has been agreed beforehand. Courts can pay for loss of earnings, travel costs and a subsistence rate during jury service.

The law gives employees the right to time off and not to be dismissed or treated detrimentally because they serve on a jury. They also have the right not to be selected for redundancy, where the reason is connected to their jury service. Employees can also bring a claim for unfair dismissal in relation to jury service by making a complaint to an employment tribunal if they are dismissed or suffer detriment for taking time off for jury service. You can find out more about the details at the website of Justice - HM Courts & Tribunals Service.

Anyone can apply for deferral of jury service by writing the details why they wish to be deferred, e.g. going on holiday. The juror should also supply the court with other dates when they are not available within a twelve month period. A jury officer will make a decision on the deferral and may arrange new dates. Jury service may only defer once up to a maximum of twelve months from the original date.