More than two years after the phone-hacking scandal led to the closure of the News of the World, two of its former editors, Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, are on trial at the Old Bailey in one of the most high profile criminal cases in years.
The trial is expected to last for five months and the first step in this process will be to select the jury, many of which are likely to be employees of businesses…
But do you know your obligations if one of your team is selected for jury service?
And do you have any options if this will negatively impact your business?
This guide provides advice on managing jury service requests:
1. How long can jury service last? Typically 10 working days but it may last many months. If a case is expected to last longer than 2 weeks, the court will notify the employee and ask if there is any reason why they cannot attend. If there is, evidence will need to be provided and the judge will make the final decision with regard to trial selection.
2. How much notice is provided? Typically six to eight weeks’ notice in the form of a summons letter which should be provided to you to support an employee’s request for time off.
3. Do I have to agree time off for an employee to attend jury service? You are expected to take reasonable steps to try and accommodate, in much the same way that you would cover holiday or sickness absence.
4. Is any consideration given to the size of my business? No, but if you can show that an employee’s absence will cause ‘’unusual hardship’’ to your business, this will be considered as a valid business reason to excuse an individual from jury service.
5. Do I have to provide full pay to an employee whilst on jury service? There is no statutory obligation to pay employees who are absent on jury service unless there is a contractual right to payment.
6. What happens if my employee is released for whole or part days during the trial? It is essential to make provisions for this to avoid your employee from sitting at home and catching up on day time TV, when they could have come into work.
Implementing a clear policy will ensure that you have covered your legal obligations and that requests for jury service are handled fairly and promptly.
It’s advisable to cover other types of authorised absences (for example; compassionate leave, domestic emergencies etc.) in the same policy so you have an agreed approach for all eventualities.