What to Do When an Employee Is Called for Jury Duty

When an Employee Is Called for Jury Duty

One of your employees has just told you that they have been summoned for jury duty.  What do you do?

As an employer, you cannot deny your employees their civic duty to serve on a jury.  A federal law, the Jury System Improvement Act, protects the rights of employees who are called to serve on a federal jury.  This law does not protect juror service for state and local courts, but most states also have laws that protect employees from termination or “intimidation” from the employer for serving on a jury.  So you must allow them the time off to serve.

Your employee asks, “Will I be paid for the time I’m serving for jury duty?”  The answer to this question will depend on a couple of factors.

First, it depends on your state.  Several states have laws that require employers to pay employees for at least some jury duty time.  For more information on jury duty compensation by state, check this map for your state’s requirements.

Second, it depends on whether the employee is classified as exempt vs. nonexempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  If the employee is nonexempt (in most cases paid hourly), the FLSA does not require that nonexempt employees be paid for time not worked, including jury duty.  So unless your state requires that you pay for jury duty, it is up to the employer’s discretion whether nonexempt employees are paid for jury duty.

If the employee is exempt (in most cases paid a salary), and they miss part of a workweek for jury duty, you should not dock their pay, as this would put their exempt status at risk under the FLSA.  The FLSA only allows certain reasons for docking pay for working a partial week, and jury duty is not one of them.  If the exempt employee has missed a full week or multiple weeks for jury duty, the FLSA allows that you may dock their pay for the entire week or weeks.

For employers that pay the difference between the jury duty fee that the employee receives and their regular salary, it is permissible to offset the exempt employee’s wages by their jury duty payment without jeopardizing their exempt status.  For example:  Jean is an exempt employee.  She serves two full days on jury duty, and she is paid $40 for each day that she serves.  It is permissible under FLSA rules to dock $80 from her pay for that week.

Even if your organization is not required to pay jury duty for nonexempt employees, employers can choose to pay for time off up to a maximum number of days.  Some employers will pay the difference between the jury duty fee that was paid directly to the employee and their regular wages for that day.  Consider developing a paid time off policy for small business, whether documentation is required, whether the employee is required to come back to work if excused early for the day, and under what circumstances the employer will request that the employee be excused due to their absence being a hardship.

Updated article 11/01/2014

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