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  • Writer's pictureLuisa Bater

Understanding the Dual Impact of Jury Service: A Guide for Employers and Employees

Motivated woman on pier at sunset

Jury service is a civic duty that offers unique insights into the judicial process.


But it also comes with challenges for both employees and employers.


Balancing these perspectives is crucial for a smooth transition during this period, and, in this blog, I’ve weaved in my recent personal experience as a juror to provide a ‘lived experience’ perspective that can help.


Below, I explore the different angles...


The Employer's Perspective


Legal Obligations and Best Practices


While employers are legally obligated to allow employees to attend jury service, fostering a supportive environment extends beyond mere compliance. Clear and open communication about the process, reassurances about job security, and providing support upon their return are all crucial elements.


This approach helps employees feel valued and reduces stress, leading to a more productive work environment.


Payment of salary


Employers should know that the daily compensation for loss of earnings and expenses related to care or childcare beyond your usual arrangements is capped (£64.95 for the first ten days).


All I have to say here is OUCH! I forgot to mention that it was half term when I was called to jury service, wasn’t it? Let's just say I would have been at a significant financial loss if I didn’t have a support network I could rely on for childcare and an employer who continued to pay my salary.


There are several options for employers when it comes to whether they pay an employee’s salary or not, and these are all based on what you can afford:


  1. Continue to pay salary as usual.

  2. Ask the employee to claim their daily compensation for loss of earnings and top up the difference.

  3. Ask the employee to claim their daily compensation from the government.


If feasible, I recommend that employers continue to pay their employees total salaries during this period. This gesture alleviates financial stress and demonstrates a commitment to employee well-being, boosting morale and loyalty.


Communication and planning


Ample notice is given for jury service. Therefore, it is key to ensure that the employee puts in place a comprehensive plan for their workload while they are expected to be away.


Ensure that you, as the employer, provide the support where needed and have a complete handover with the employee before they commence their jury service.


Expectations whilst the employee is on jury service


Let me start by saying whatever they are, lower them! I went into the process thinking I’d be productive and get lots of work on my commute in and out of town. I was wrong, those train carriages are packed!


I thought I’d have lots of time waiting around, and to a degree, this is true; however, jury service is an all-consuming experience if assigned to a case. Therefore, if you expect a quick response to an email or an action to be undertaken, you are more than likely putting undue stress on your employee.


Also, let's talk about the duration you expect your employee will be on jury service. It’ll be two weeks, right? Well, in most cases, this is said to be true. However, I was aware of individuals assigned cases for six months and another for seven weeks. This was out of their control.


I was able to witness their employers' responses. Some were really supportive, and let's say some were not. Please consider how you respond to a situation where the employee has little control.


Confidentiality


Like GDPR in the workplace, the employee is bound by law only to discuss the case once it has concluded, so refrain from asking them.


However, bear in mind that the employee might be assigned a difficult or upsetting case, and therefore, it would be advised to offer the details for your EAP along with any other mental well-being support you have, just in case.


The Employee's Perspective


The Unknown


For many employees, jury service means stepping out of their familiar work environment into an unknown world. It’s like being drafted into a real-life TV drama—except with less glamorous outfits and more sitting around.


Despite the challenges, the experience provides a unique insight into the legal system, which I found fascinating.


The Juggle


When an employee is called for jury service, reactions can vary from excitement to viewing it as a significant inconvenience. I saw it as the latter.


With two small children and commitments as a consultant, I saw it as particularly challenging. Given my usual remote working setup, the prospect of daily travel into the city centre also contributed to the lack of enthusiasm.


Despite these challenges, I recognised my civic duty and shifted into planning mode. I devised strategies for childcare, commuting, and managing client expectations. This proactive approach is essential if you find yourself in a similar situation.


Open Communication


Balancing work and civic duty can add stress, particularly concerning meeting work deadlines and managing projects. Open communication with employers about these concerns and effective planning are crucial to mitigating this stress.


No one wants a stressed-out juror, least of all the person on trial!


Personal Impact and Aftermath


I must admit that I hadn’t given the lasting impact of jury service any consideration, either as an individual or when advising employers throughout my HR career.


You do not get to pick the case you are assigned. You can wish for a bit of ‘fraud’ like I did; however, the reality is that you will hear and read things that can have a significant emotional impact.


The intensity of the experience may necessitate time to decompress and readjust to everyday work life afterwards.


Personal Reflection


As someone who recently served on a jury for a particularly challenging and horrid case, I can attest to its profound impact on me. The experience was eye-opening and deeply moving, but it also left me feeling drained and needing time to process what I'd heard and witnessed.


Having a supportive employer made all the difference.


It wasn’t all doom and gloom; the highlight of my experience was meeting many diverse individuals from various backgrounds, offering a unique networking opportunity, and catching a glimpse of how the criminal justice system works.


I certainly do not regret the experience, and whilst is was certainly inconvenient, I’m pleased I got the opportunity.

 

Jury service is a unique responsibility that can be both enriching and challenging.


By understanding and addressing the perspectives of both the employer and employee, we can create a more supportive environment that respects the importance of this civic duty while maintaining workplace productivity.


Open communication, thoughtful planning, and mutual understanding are crucial to navigating this experience successfully.

 

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1 Comment


Annie Willmot
May 31

This is a very timely read for me 😅 Just done jury service, also during half term and on a very emotional and challenging case!

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