Jury service is a trying time. And not always just for the accused. A juror may find it an unusual and difficult situation. And if they’re employed, what about the knock-on effects on their boss and the business?
Some people will come up with all manner of excuses to get out of jury duty. Here, attorneys in America recount a few of their favourite excuses for avoiding jury service. These include “I have a weak bladder”, “I don’t believe in the law”, and even a potential juror saying that the attorney had picked her up in a bar five years previously! They were all excused – as was the person who walked in holding a book published by the defence attorney which repeatedly criticised prosecutors.
That’s all before the trial begins. Depending on the crime, time in court could be harrowing, draining, or just plain tedious. You can’t forget Homer Simpson’s jury duty, in which he took to wearing a pair of glasses with fake eyes to allow him to sleep through proceedings.
Jury service advice for employers
So what about for you the employer? Having an employee announce they have been selected for jury duty could represent a major business disruption. Or at the very least, leave you scrabbling around finding out what you need to do. So let’s take a look at what you can and can’t do, which will help inform your first response to your employee.
Who can be called up to jury service?
Jury service is a public duty, and every Irish citizen from the age of 18 and 70 and is on the Register of Dáil Electors can be selected, however certain occupations are exempt. A computer randomly picks jurors. If your employee is chosen, they should inform you as soon as possible.
How long does jury service last?
The normal length of time an employee is tied up with jury service is up to ten days. However, for complex trials it can last much longer. If your employee is not required at court, they should return to work unless other arrangements have been made.
Do I have to let my employee go on jury duty?
In normal circumstances, you have to let your employee go on jury duty. There is a provision by which you can apply to delay the jury service if it would seriously damage your business. You’ll need to provide an explanatory letter if you go down this path.
Do I have to pay my employee while they are on jury service?
Anyone with a contract of employment (e.g. temporary workers, contract workers etc.) are entitled to be paid by their employer whilst they are on jury service. You can request for your employees certificate of attendance from the Jury office if required.
Do employees in jury service receive any special employment protections?
While employees are on jury service they enjoy some enhanced employment protection. They are legally entitled to time away from work and are protected from being treated unfavourably and being dismissed. They cannot be selected for redundancy due to reasons connected to their jury service. If your employee feels these protections have been breached, they can take you to an employment tribunal.
The HR Dept Advice Line
Jury service is just one of those many unexpected issues that employing people throws up. It’s hard to keep on top of all the rules and regulations by yourself, but getting it wrong can be so costly. That’s where our retained advice line comes in. For a small monthly fee we provide unlimited telephone and email support to make sure you get your HR right. Better still, it is backed by tribunal indemnity insurance. We are nationwide, so call your local HR Dept office for more information.