Jury Duty Leave: A Q&A on What Employers Need to Know
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.
While jury service is considered an important civic duty, it can create unpredictability and potentially extra costs for employers because they must allow jury-serving employees to miss work—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. Here are answers to common questions:
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.
States' laws vary, but most require employers to provide leave of absence to workers who get summoned. Moreover, many states impose penalties on employers who intimidate employees into skipping jury service or penalize them for serving as a juror. New York state law, for example, says an employer can face up to 30 days' imprisonment and a $1,000 fine if found guilty of penalizing or firing an employee for serving jury duty.
Is the employee still required to work?
States generally 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 do vary significantly, it's important to know your specific state or local government's laws.
Does your company have to pay employees who take jury duty leave?
Federal law does not require employers to pay nonexempt employees—those who are often paid hourly and are eligible for overtime pay—for serving jury duty. However, white collar exempt employees paid on a salary basis—those who aren't eligible for overtime—must receive their full salary for the workweek if the employee works any part of the week while on jury duty. If the employee performs no work for the entire week, no pay is due.
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, temporary, and casual) 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.
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 jury service. 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.
What about part-time employees?
Again, rules vary. Employers should review the applicable rules to determine if pay is required for part-time employees.
Can an employer ask for proof that an employee served jury duty?
Some states, such as Alabama and Illinois require employees show their employer their summons in order to receive jury duty leave, though most states’ jury duty regulations do not address. 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.
Due to the patchwork of jury duty laws, it's important to brush up on laws applicable to your business and follow them carefully. You can minimize the impact of employees' jury duty leave by being prepared and having policies and procedures in place for when employees are summoned to serve.