Jury Duty - To Pay or Not to Pay

November 16, 2010 | PrimePay Business and Experts Blog | 11 Comments

jury duty pay regulationsQUESTION:
What are my obligations, as an employer, regarding employees who are called to jury duty?

ANSWER:
Many states prohibit employers from penalizing, firing or taking adverse personnel action against employees that are called for jury duty or respond to a jury summons.  Other states require that an employee provide their employer with reasonable notice of jury service.  A number of states also prohibit employers from deducting from an employee’s pay due to time off of work for jury duty service.  And five states are required to pay employees for their jury duty time off. 

Employers should contact their state labor department for additional information on their state’s regulations regarding time off for jury duty.  The United States Department of Labor website provides employers with a guide to local and regional Department of Labor programs and services by state.  Click here to access the DOL Services by Location web page.        

Employee Job Protection under the Federal Jury System Improvement Act
In connection with jury duty in a United States Federal court, an employer is prohibited from discharging, threatening to discharge, intimidating, or coercing an employee because of jury service and requires that the employer allow the employee to return to work after jury duty service.  Any employer that violates this Federal law is subject to a fine up to $5,000 per violation and may be ordered to perform community service.

Exempt Employee Pay for Jury Duty Service
Federal Wage and Hour regulations specify that employers may not make deductions from a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) exempt employee's salary for absences caused by jury duty or for that employee’s attendance as a witness.  Employers may offset any amount that an employee receives as jury or witness fees for a particular week against the salary due to the employee for that particular week.  Click here to access the FLSA Overtime Security Advisor web page for more information on exempt employees and jury duty.

State Pay Requirements for Jury Duty Time Off
Unless your employee handbook or company personnel policies say otherwise, most states generally do not require that employees be paid for jury duty time off.  Some states do however; require that employers pay employees a certain amount of money for jury duty time.  The amount an employee is paid for jury duty will vary from state to state.  States that are required to pay employees for jury duty service include Alabama, Connecticut, Colorado, Massachusetts and New YorkThe Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) Employee Benefits Survey indicates that 87 percent of employers offer paid leave for jury duty service.

What’s Your Jury Duty Policy?
If your company doesn’t have a personnel policy on jury duty service, be on the lookout for Friday’s blog article.  We’ll include a sample jury duty policy that you can customize for your company.

Have a question on your state's jury duty regulations?  Post a comment to this article and we'll research the laws for your state based on a number of different resources we have.

Tags: human resources, employee compliance