Do Employers Have to Pay for Jury Duty?
It won’t take long for a new business to confront a situation where an employee is required to serve on a jury. Then what happens?
Does the employee get paid by the employer for jury duty? Does the employer have a legal obligation to pay full salary to employees? What rights do the employees on jury duty have?
Both employers and employees understand our jury system is an important bedrock in our country's foundation. Nobody wants to create an environment that impedes the necessary participation by citizens to serve on juries.
Most states recognize this and have passed laws to protect the integrity of the jury system.
"To prevent employers from intimidating employees from serving on juries, many states have laws that prohibit employers from engaging in threatening or retaliatory tactics. In Maine, for example, an employer may not intimidate an employee by threatening to take away health insurance coverage and in North Dakota, an employer cannot layoff, penalize, coerce, or dock the pay of an employee because of jury duty service."
States give protection to employers, too, requiring employees to give adequate notice when they have jury duty and requiring the employee to return to work the next scheduled day after their service ends.
But does federal law require employers to pay for jury duty?
The answer is no. But, as we mentioned, a few states require employers to pay employees for jury duty. However, the marketplace has spoken in favor of the practice. Despite few legal requirements for paying employees, 87 percent of employees are offered paid leave for jury duty, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It has essentially evolved into a universal job perk.
Some companies pay the employees their full pay and require them to refund the amount of jury pay they receive from the court system. Therefore, the employee is paid fully and the employer gets a small amount of compensation for losing an employee during the trial.
As mentioned above, although most states don't require employers to pay employees for jury duty, they do strictly prohibit any retaliatory action against the employee for serving.
"In many states, an employer that penalizes or fires an employee can be charged with a misdemeanor. For example, in Colorado, such a violation is punishable with a fine of $250 to $1,000 or 3 to 12 months imprisonment, or both. In Massachusetts, a violation is punishable with a fine of up to $500 or up to 90 days imprisonment, or both. In other states, such as California, the misdemeanor entitles the employee to reinstatement, back pay, lost wages, and benefits."
In general, the law and marketplace have created an environment that eases the burden on both employer and employee for participating in our all-important jury system.