Time off for jury service

Trial by jury is a key part of the legal system and a democratic way of life. Jury service is an important responsibility for all citizens. Find out about your right to time off work for jury service.

Getting time off work for jury service

If you are called up for jury service your employer must allow you time off for this. 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 call-up.

Your employer can get information at the link below if you are called up for jury duty:

Payment

Your employer does not have to pay you while you are 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. There are however 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 altogether you need to write to the Jury Management Team setting out your reasons why. However, unless you have already served as a juror within the previous two years, your call-up is likely to be deferred.

How long jury service lasts

Jury service usually lasts for 10 days, but some trials take longer. Jurors are usually warned in advance if a trial is expected to last a long time.

Unfair dismissal

If you are sacked because you have been called up for or done jury service, you can claim unfair dismissal. However, 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.

What to do next

If you have been called up for jury service you should let your employer know:

  • how long you'll need off
  • what arrangements need to be made for cover in your absence
  • hand over a copy of the Confirmation of Jury Service letter you receive from the court

If your employer mistreats you for taking jury service you should first of all follow the grievance procedure outlined in your contract.

Find out more about what to expect from Jury service.

Where to get help

If you have any queries about jury service in Northern Ireland, contact the Jury Management Team on:

The Labour Relations Agency offers free, confidential and impartial advice on all employment rights issues for residents of Northern Ireland. You can contact the LRA on 028 9032 1442 from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm Monday to Friday.

Citizens Advice Northern Ireland can provide free and impartial advice. 

If you are a member of a trade union, you can get help, advice and support from them

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