Payroll – What you need to know about Jury Service

There is confusion around the rules on jury service and payment for employees called for jury.   We thought we would share your obligations as an employer on this.

If one of your employees has been summoned for jury service, here’s what you need to know.

Talk with your employee about:

  • when they need to go to jury service
  • how long the trial might last. This information may be contained in the juror summons letter they receive. Some trials might be longer, depending on the court case.

If your employee isn’t selected for jury service, they’re free to go back to work. This means they may only be away from work for a few hours during that week.  Keep in touch with them so you know what is going on.

If your employee is selected to be on a jury, they may be away from work for only part of the week, the whole week, or longer than a week. The length of time they’re away from work will depend on the court case.

Employer obligations

Employees who have been called up for jury service MUST attend and their job is protected while they attend jury service. The law says you must let your employee do jury service (not always convenient right?!). If there’s too much work on, they can ask the court to defer (put off) their service until a later date as long as it’s within one year. You’ll need to write a letter that your employee can show to the court when they ask to defer their service if an employee’s absence from work causes difficulty because of special commitments.  Jury Service — Ministry of Justice website

An employer CANNOT dismiss their employee or threaten to dismiss them, or otherwise threaten their position for attending jury service. In this situation, the employer could be convicted of an offence and receive a fine of up to $10,000, and the employee could also bring a personal grievance.  Not what we want for any small business.

Paying your employee while they do jury service

People who attend jury service receive a small attendance fee from the Ministry of Justice.

Employers DO NOT have to pay employees while they do jury service, but you can choose to ‘top up’ the money the employee gets from the Ministry of Justice so that they get their normal pay.

It is illegal to require an employee to use their annual leave to cover time off for jury duty.

Some employers make up the difference between a juror’s attendance fee and the employee’s normal rate of pay. This means your employee doesn’t lose money because they do jury service.  However, it’s not a legal requirement to do this (unless it’s specified in an employment agreement).

We recommend employers put a clause relating to jury service in employment agreements.  Here is an example from the Employment Agreement Builder Leave for other reasons — Employment Agreement Builder

 

Information used from Employment.govt.nz and Justice.govt.nz

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