When you receive a notice in the mail that it’s time for you to serve jury duty, you might wonder if there are any laws associated with compensating employees for jury duty. Though your employer can and should give you time off after having a child, when you’re too sick to work and when you accumulate vacation time, the law does not require that they pay you for serving on a jury. It’s often up to the discretion of your employer if you receive paid time off.
What is Jury Duty?
Jury duty refers to the time that individuals spend serving on a jury during a court case. When you register to vote, your name goes into the jury system. If your name comes up, the court will send you a notice that you must appear on a specific day and at a specific time. There is no guarantee that the lawyers will select you for the jury. One or both sides may dismiss you from serving based on how you respond to various questions, and the judge can also dismiss you from the proceedings as well.
How Long Does it Last?
Many people want to know how long jury duty will take, but the truth is that it depends on the case. There is a chance that you may find yourself on a case that ends with a decision prior to lunch or by the end of the date, but you may also find yourself serving on a case that lasts for days, weeks or even months. The court will compensate you in various ways. You’ll often stay in a hotel during longer trials, receive free meals and get a daily stipend, but this stipend is usually nowhere near the amount you would make at work.
Fair Labor Standards Act
According to the United States Department of Labor, the Fair Labor Standards Act does not require that employers compensate workers for serving on a jury. Compensating employees for jury duty, according to the FLSA, is up to each individual employer. The Department of Labor also found that some states do require that employers give workers paid time off when serving on a jury. As there is no federal law requiring your job to pay you for jury duty, you may find that you receive no compensation for the hours or days of work that you miss.
Talking with the Court
Before you begin worrying about the income that you will lose while serving on a jury, prepare yourself to talk to the court. The judge will ask every person there is there is any reason why they cannot take part in the proceedings. If your employer refuses to pay you, let the court know that taking part will create a financial hardship for you and that you cannot afford to take time off work. While there is no guarantee the judge will let you go, he or she may dismiss you on the spot and let you get back to work.
Many people go years without once taking part in a jury, but others find their names pulled up every few years or more often. Though there are no federal laws associated with compensating employees for jury duty, some states do require that employers give their workers time off to serve.