Managing jury service requests

21 May, 2010

Jury service creates unexpected problems for employers. But sometimes, an employee can ask to be excused – or to have their selection deferred.

Our new Deferral of Jury Service letter helps you support such an application. So how does it work?

Required for jury service
Under the Juries Act 1974 an individual who is a. aged 18-70 years old, b. registered on the electoral register, and c. a resident of the UK (for five consecutive years) can be called for jury service. Some people are disqualified – for example, those on bail awaiting criminal proceedings and individuals with certain mental disorders.
Jurors’ names are randomly selected by the Jury Central Summoning Bureau and those chosen are normally required to serve for a minimum of 10 working days – although in much more complicated trials the time will be longer. Usually, six to eight weeks’ notice is given.
If one of your employees is picked, they can apply to be ‘excused’, or to have their service ‘deferred’ to a later date. This is on the grounds that their absence from work would be likely to cause “substantial harm” to your business – provided it would. Note: you cannot make the application on your employee’s behalf, but you can – and should – submit evidence in support of it.

New document
To help you support an employee’s application, we have created a new ‘Deferral of Jury Service’ letter. It should be sent at the same time as their own request. We have provided some time-suggested reasons, but you can add other information about your business to help strengthen your employee’s request.
Jury service can only be deferred once and for a maximum of 12 months. And your employee will need to provide details of all other dates in the forthcoming year when they will not be available.
They will only be excused if:
1. they cannot serve at any time during the next year, or
2. they have already undertaken jury service within the previous two years.
Being excused is generally only considered in exceptional circumstances and, if your employee requests one, because of work commitments; it is likely they will be offered deferral in the first instance. You should, therefore, have contingency plans in place in case it goes ahead.
If an employee’s application is rejected, you should release them from work in accordance with the court summons. While there is no specific statutory duty that requires you to grant them time off work for this purpose, a refusal to do so would be a contempt of court.
While you would be unlikely to decline, tribunals take a dim view of employers who subject their staff to any detriment – for example, a dismissal or demotion – because they have been summoned for jury service.
l For a free copy of our new Deferral of Jury Service letter,
please contact the NAMB on
01920 468061.





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