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What is the law regarding jury service?

Everyone summoned to form a jury must attend. This could include you or any of your employees. With no indication as to how long service will last – the average is 10 days but it can run up to several months – it can be a disruptive experience for business owners.

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As an employer, you have no obligation to carry on paying a member of staff who's summoned for jury service. Instead, your employee can ask you for a certificate of loss of earnings and claim money back from the Courts Service. If your staff need more information, direct them to the Gov.uk website.

If you're a sole trader, or self-employed, you'll have to provide evidence of loss of earnings before you can claim money back. The Courts Service suggests a letter from your accountant; this may be impossible for many sole traders, however, so evidence of work commissioned or orders lost may be more appropriate.

The Courts can grant "discretionary excusal", meaning somebody can avoid doing jury service if they have good grounds for doing so, or at least can defer it until a later date.

Small business owners may be granted discretionary excusal if they can show their business is unlikely to survive without them or if it will have severe problems. Likewise, an employee may be able to prove he or she is indispensable to the business.

Sole traders with no other income may also be granted excusal. Employers should note that it is no longer possible to dismiss employees absent on jury service.

Forum members are protected by legal expenses insurance which covers jury service costs at a rate of £100 per day for each insured person's attendance at court for jury service provided such costs are not recoverable from the court, up to a value of £1,000 per claim. Call us on 0845 130 1722 to find out more.

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