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Jury Duty and Employers: What to Do if an Employee Misses Work

It’s likely that one of your team members will be summoned for jury duty eventually. Although it’s an important civic responsibility, jury duty can be frustrating for employers because of how unpredictable it is. You never know whether your worker will be dismissed early or end up on a trial that lasts weeks or months. What do you do if someone is summoned to jury duty and must miss work?

The federal government and most states have laws prohibiting you from firing or disciplining a staff member because they missed work for jury duty. Under the Jury Selection and Service Act, you’re required to give them time off and must guarantee that they will not lose their jobs because they are serving. You must also continue to provide benefits during that time.

Can you ask the court to excuse an employee from jury duty?

Some states have laws preventing you from discouraging your employee from serving their time as a juror. But, you may be able to ask the court to excuse the worker if you can prove their absence would create a hardship for your business. In your appeal, include a detailed account of how the team member’s absence will impact your business and bottom line. If the person is summoned during a particularly busy time for your company (such as tax season for accountants), then consider requesting that their service be deferred until a specific date.

Do you have to pay your employee for their time served on a jury?

If an exempt employee works part of the week while serving jury duty, then you may be required to pay them their regular salary. Federal law, however, does not require you to pay nonexempt workers for time served as a juror.

Some states may require you to pay your staff members during their service, including:   

  • Colorado: Workers are entitled to their regular wages for the first three days of jury duty.
  • Connecticut: Full-time workers are entitled to their regular wages for the first five days of service. After that, the state will pay up to $50 per day.
  • Massachusetts: All employees are entitled to their regular wages for the first three days of jury duty. The state will pay $50 per day after that.
  • New York: If you have more than 10 employees, then you must pay them at least $40 per day for the first three days of service.
  • Tennessee: You must pay your team their regular wages minus any compensation from the court.

We recommend contacting your state and local governments to learn if they have specific laws concerning paying your workforce during jury duty.

Should you include jury duty policies in your employee handbook?

Having jury duty procedures outlined in your employee handbook can help minimize the disruption if someone is summoned. You might include:

  • whether the worker must submit their summons or proof that they attended court
  • if the team member needs to come back to work if they are excused early
  • how and when you will request the person be excused from service due to their absence being a hardship
  • whether you’ll pay your staff member
  • how many days you will pay them
  • whether you’ll deduct any compensation received from the court, or if the worker should sign court stipends over to the company

Your handbook is a great tool for communicating policies and procedures with your small business team. Learn more about what to include in your employee handbook.