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Upper age limit for jury service to rise to 75

The upper age limit for jurors in England and Wales is to be raised from 70 to 75, according to a Ministry of Justice announcement. The move is aimed at making sure the criminal justice system keeps pace with demographic changes in society, including the increasing role that older people are playing in the workplace.

Every year, around 178,000 people in England and Wales take their seats on a jury, but currently only those aged from 18 to 70 are chosen to do so. A Government spokesman said that this age limit did not take account of increases in life expectancy over the past 25 years.

Jurors are selected at random by computer from the electoral register. Typically jury service lasts around ten days. Employees who have been called up should let their employer know as soon as possible that they will need time off. If they are not needed at court they should return to work unless some other agreement has been reached beforehand.

Employers must allow employees time off if they have been summoned for jury service, and are eligible to sit. Employees are protected against 'detriment' or dismissal for a reason related to requesting or taking time off for jury service.

There's no statutory right to payment for time away from work to be on a jury. But in some cases, there may be some contractual provision for payment. Jurors can claim for expenses, such as travel, extra childcare and lunch, as well as for loss of earnings up to a certain daily limit.

Employees may defer their jury service with a good reason, such as having an operation or a holiday already booked, but it can only be deferred once in a 12-month period.

Employers may ask employees to apply to the court to be excused from or defer their jury service if the employee's absence would have a substantial detrimental impact on the business. The employer cannot go directly to the court for this, but can write a letter or statement in support of the employee's request.

Acas provides free advice on Jury service and what to do if you're an employer or employee. It can also help with issues surrounding Age discrimination, and offers training on Age and the repeal of the Default Retirement Age and Employing People - A Practical Introduction.

Visit the Acas Training and Business Solutions page for more information.

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