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Jury Duty Leave: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers for Employers

Human Resources
Article
07/02/2018

About 15 percent of American adults get summoned for jury service each year, and around 10 million people report for jury duty, according to the National Center for State Courts.. Employees may be eligible for paid or unpaid leave to serve Jury duty.

While jury duty service is considered an important civic duty, it can create unpredictability and potentially extra costs for employers who are required to allow employees leave from work to serve on jury duty — which could last potentially anywhere from a few hours to several weeks or even months.

That said, it's important that employers know and follow the laws around providing jury duty leave. It can be helpful to communicate your company's jury duty leave policy in your employee handbook to inform employees and managers it. Below please find frequently asked question and answers about jury duty leaves:

Are you required to allow an employee to report for jury duty?

The federal Jury Systems Improvement Act requires all employers to provide unpaid leave to employees serving as jurors in federal courts.

Most states require employer to provide unpaid leave, but some state laws require employers to pay employees who are asked to serve jury duty (federal law does not). Many states also impose penalties on employers who retaliate against or intimidate employees who request time off to serve on jury duty. In New York state, for example, failure to comply with applicable jury duty leave requirements is punishable as criminal contempt.

Jury duty leave may be also regulated at the city or county level. Please refer to your city or town website for additional information on applicable laws related to jury duty service.

Is the employee still required to work?

It depends. Some jurisdictions require that employers allow employees serving on jury duty to take leave from work — meaning they can't be required to make up the work time they missed. However, because jury duty laws vary significantly, it's important to know your specific state and/or local law.

Does your company have to pay employees for the time spent in jury duty service?

Federal law does not require employers to pay non-exempt employees (those who are often paid hourly and are eligible for overtime pay) for serving jury duty, unless state or local law dictates otherwise. However, white-collar exempt employees who are paid on a salary basis and aren't eligible for overtime must receive their full salary for the workweek if the employee works any part of the workweek. If the employee performs no work for the entire workweek, no pay is due, unless it is company policy to do so.

Keep in mind that many local and state court systems also pay jurors a modest daily stipend, such as $15 or $30. Some states allow employers to deduct that stipend from any income they must pay an employee serving on jury duty . Federal courts pay people serving jury duty between $40 to $50 each day depending on type and length of service and may reimburse for certain expenses related to service.

To find out if an employee was paid for jury duty, you may need to call the applicable court and find out whether they pay for jury duty service and how much, or check if juror pay information is available on the jurisdiction’s website. If the employee is serving jury duty for a state court, you can check your state court's website.

Which states require employers to pay employees during jury duty leave or to give them extra time off?

Beyond federal law, several states, cities, and even counties have their own jury duty payment rules. Massachusetts, for example, generally requires employers to pay all employees (including part-time and temporary workers) their regular pay for the first three days of jury duty. Alabama requires employers to pay only full-time employees their full regular pay for all days the employee is serving jury duty.

Laws and regulations differ on covered employees as well as exemptions. Employers are encouraged to review applicable laws and determine their company policy in compliance with those laws. Refer to your jurisdiction’s enforcement agency for more information.

Can an employer ask for proof that an employee served jury duty?

Some states, such as Alabama and Illinois permit employers to require employees show their employer their summons in order to receive jury duty leave, though most jurisdiction’s jury duty regulations do not. Even in states where showing the summons isn't required, many local and state court systems will provide proof of attendance for people who need it.

Can employers contact employees while they are serving on jury duty?

There are no laws barring employers from contacting an employee during jury duty. Employers should be aware that wage and hours laws regarding paying employees for all time worked would still apply.

Are employers required to reimburse mileage while an employee is on jury duty?

No. Courts may reimburse people serving jury duty for their mileage at a particular rate. Some courts also reimburse for parking, public transportation, and meals. Employers do not have to cover these costs.

Is jury duty pay taxed?

Yes, any jury duty pay and/or mileage reimbursement that an employee receives for serving on a jury is taxable and must be declared on their annual tax return. The employee must include their total payment on the "other income" line of their 1040 tax form. However, if an employer requires the employee to sign over jury duty pay (essentially reducing how much the employer pays the employee during jury duty), that jury duty pay is not taxable.

Due to the patchwork of jury duty laws, it's important to review those that are applicable to your business and your employees and follow them carefully. You can minimize the impact of employees' jury duty leave by being prepared, and having policies and procedures outlined in your employee handbook for when employees are summoned to serve.

 

This website contains articles posted for informational and educational value. Paychex is not responsible for information contained within any of these materials. Any opinions expressed within materials are not necessarily the opinion of, or supported by, Paychex. The information in these materials should not be considered legal or accounting advice, and it should not substitute for legal, accounting, and other professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant.
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