Jury duty is an essential component of the United States judicial system. But when it comes to fulfilling jury duty, state and federal law mandate the action of the employee more than that of the employer. Employers can make this public service burdensome for an employee, or make jury duty as stress-free as possible.
Jury duty is often considered an inconvenience for both the employee called and the employer. If your employee is summoned for jury duty, he or she must respond accordingly. Employees may be restricted to only a few excuses for not complying with their obligations.
As an employer, you should remember the following:
1. Your business’s jury duty policy must be compliant with state and federal jury duty law.
2. Missing jury duty is a criminal violation and your employee may be held in contempt of court.
3. In some states, employers who fire or threaten to fire employees because of jury duty may be fined, imprisoned or both if convicted.
Comply with jury duty rules and your state's lawsAn employer cannot fire or discipline an employee called to jury duty in most states. Additionally, most state jury duty laws don't mandate employers to pay for time spent serving on a jury. However, some states do encourage employers to pay employees while they serve, as a good will gesture, and some mandate employers to pay for a portion of the time off in an attempt to avoid potential jurors missing jury duty.
state labor department for more information on your state's law regarding time off for jury service. Also, the U.S. Department of Labor recaps federal policy regarding this matter.
Know your rights regarding jury duty and employee policyIn some states, an employer may request proof of jury duty from the employee as company policy. Additionally, if an employer is unable to pay an employee during jury duty, because it will "result in extreme financial hardship," then he or she may request to waive this obligation. If so, the courts will compensate the employee up to $50 per day of service. The employee can pick up both proof and waiver application documents from the court's office post-service.
Confirm that your HR guidelines include all aspects of jury duty policyYour human resource department plays a fundamental role in your business. You must set up policies for all aspects of your employees' life during their hours of work at your company. Therefore, it is vital that situations such as jury duty policy are covered from all angles to avoid employee complaints and possible lawsuits.
- When putting together your employee package on jury duty policies, write a list of FAQs from the employee's point of view so you don't miss anything. For instance, a question might read: "What procedure should I follow when called upon for jury duty?"