Time off for jury service

Trial by jury is an important part of the legal system. Jury service is an important responsibility for all citizens. If you're employed and selected for jury service, your employer must allow you to take time off work.

Getting time off work for jury service

If you are called for jury service, your employer must allow you time off from work. If they don't, they could be in contempt of court. If you're an employee you have the right not to be treated unfairly, for example not being considered for promotion because of your jury service.

Your employer can get information about jury service for staff:

Payment

Your employer does not have to pay you while you're on jury service. But you can claim from the court for:

  • travel
  • food expenses
  • loss of earnings

You need to get your employer to fill out a Certificate of Loss of Earnings to claim for loss of earnings. But there are limits on the amount that you can claim.

Deferring or not attending jury service

You can ask for your jury service to be deferred. You can only do this once and for no more than 12 months from the original date.

If you want to be excluded from jury service, you need to write to the Jury Management Team at the Customer Service Centre setting out your reasons why.  If you have already served as a juror within the last two years, your call-up is likely to be deferred.

How long jury service lasts

A jury panel usually is in place for approximately four weeks.

During this time jurors could be chosen from the panel and be sworn to sit on more than one trial. Trials can last a few days or a number of weeks. Jurors will be informed if a trial is expected to sit for a longer duration.

Telling your employer about jury service

If you have been called for jury service, you should:

  • tell your employer how long you'll need to be off work
  • discuss arrangements to cover your absence
  • show your employer your Jury Summons and important information provided with your summons
  • refer them to the information for employers of jurors  

If your employer mistreats you for taking jury service, you should follow the grievance procedure in your contract.

Unfair dismissal

If you are sacked because you have been called for or completed jury service, you can claim unfair dismissal. But if your employer told you your absence would have a serious effect on their business and you didn't ask for your call-up to be deferred or to be excused, the dismissal is likely to be fair.

Where to get help

If you have any queries about jury service, contact:

The Labour Relations Agency and Advice NI give free, confidential and impartial advice on all employment rights for people in Northern Ireland. 

If you're in a trade union, they can give you help and advice.

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