Most UK adults can get called for jury service. This can present some issues for employers, who must legally provide time off for the employee when they need it. Most trials are over within a few days, but more serious or complex crimes will take longer.
How does jury service work?
Most adults aged between 18 and 70 can get called for jury service, and choices are made at random using the electoral register. Unless they have a good reason for doing so, it is unlikely they will be excused. Those selected for jury service are sent a ‘jury summons,’ which must be returned within seven days. They will then be sent details of how to get to the court and what to expect once there.
How long are jurors away for?
Most cases will conclude within three to 10 days. More serious crimes such as murder, or complex fraud cases, may take longer. If a case is expected to take longer, jurors will need to confirm with the court that they will be available. Should any of your employees be called for jury service, ensure you discuss this possibility with them and agree to the same arrangements to avoid getting your wires crossed.
Do I have to give employees time off and pay them?
Yes, you are legally required to provide your employees with time off if they are called for jury service. However, you are not required to pay them, although many companies do as a gesture of goodwill. The level of remuneration you provide may have tax and national insurance implications; please see the section below for more information.
"If they have a very good reason, (work or personal), employees can ask to defer or decline jury service, but this tends to be granted only in exceptional circumstances," said Jo Nockels of TaxAssist. "Armed with this knowledge, hopefully you can make an informed decision about whether you need to take on cover staff, and whether you can afford to pay your employee as a gesture of goodwill or whether they need to claim the ‘loss of earnings’ allowance.”
What tax and NI implications are there of jury service?
How you handle tax and NI will depend on what remuneration you provide to your employee during jury service.
- If you don’t pay your employee anything, you won’t need to add to their payroll record or P11 form.
- If you pay your employee in full, you also won’t need to make any changes to payroll. Continue paying national insurance and tax in the normal way.
- If you add to a ‘loss of earnings’ allowance, you will need to calculate PAYE tax and national insurance contributions on the amount you provide
"Jury duty can not only be costly for employers, but can also create extra paperwork and for small businesses in particular, this can be a bit of a headache," said Jo Nockels of TaxAssist. "Employees should let you know as soon as possible if they have been called up and tell you how long they have been told the trial is expected to last. You should also discuss their work in progress.
Tax implications of a ‘loss of earnings’ allowance
Employees can apply for a ‘loss of earnings’ allowance if you decide not to pay them. The court will then ask you to confirm how much money the employee will miss out on due to jury service. You don’t have to count the allowance when calculating PAYE and NIC for the employee because it counts as compensation and not remuneration a job.
However, some employers decide to top up the allowance to ensure the employee takes home their full salary for the period. This will require you to calculate PAYE and NICs on the amount being contributed to the ‘loss of earnings’ allowance.
To do this:
- Subtract the loss of earnings allowance from the employee’s net pay
- This gives the amount you’d need to top-up to provide your employee with their full normal remuneration
- To work out PAYE and NICs, convert this net figure to a gross figure using the relevant tax codes
Do not subtract the ‘loss of earnings’ payment from the gross pay, as the loss of earnings compensation is paid net. If you do this you will over-pay your employee for the time spent on jury service. This is not allowed for those on jury service – the total amount paid (including the ‘loss of earnings’ payment) must be equal to or under their usual salary.
Other tax implications of jury service
Employers on cumulative tax codes who received less than full pay while on jury service may have built up unused Personal Allowance on returning to work. This will entitle them to a reduction in PAYE tax payable on first payday following jury service, and in some cases may entitle them to a tax refund.
Commercial payroll software, and HMRC’s P11 Calculator, can be used to calculate these tax implications for employees on cumulative tax codes. If you use paper P11s you will need to work out the tax implications yourself – contact HMRC or a qualified accountant if you require assistance.