Jury duty is an essential component of our judicial system and most employers go above and beyond the law when accommodating employees that have been called. If your employee is summoned for jury duty, this information will help keep you in compliance with state and federal law.
Employers’ Obligation to Pay Wages – State Courts
Under state law, employers are required to pay full-time employees their regular wages for the first five days of jury duty, or any part thereof, unless they are considered temporary or casual employees. For purposes of this law, “full-time” is defined as an employee holding a position normally requiring 30 hours or more of service in each week. A seasonal worker, such as a summer intern, is considered temporary or casual and is not entitled to reimbursement from the employer. Jurors that are not entitled to wages from an employer may be eligible for up to $50 per day from the state for reimbursement of necessary out-of-pocket expenses, such as mileage and child care, for the first five days. All jurors serving more than five days will be reimbursed $50 per day by the state.
What Constitutes Regular Wages
You are not required to pay an employee wages for jury duty performed on any day that the employee would not have accrued regular wages, e.g. regularly scheduled days off or unpaid leave of absence days. Also, you are not required to pay regular wages on any day of juror service on which your employee does not work more than one-half of a shift that extends into another day. For example, if the employee works the 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. shift Monday through Friday, you are not required to pay the employee regular wages for jury duty on Monday, because the employee would not have worked more than one-half of the shift on that day.
Temporary Help Service Employees
If an individual holds a position for more than ninety days through a temporary help service which requires thirty hours or more of service per week, the temporary help service is required to reimburse the employee for wages for the first five days of jury service, or any part thereof.
Waiver of Jury Service Compensation
Employers may submit a written request to the court in which the juror served to waive the requirement to pay an employee for jury service if payment would result in extreme financial hardship to the employer. Small employers, in particular, have successfully taken advantage of this provision. The request must be made within fifteen days of receiving the waiver application, which is provided to the juror upon completion of service. If the employer is excused from its obligation to pay an employee, the court will reimburse the juror’s regular wages for up to $50 per day. If a waiver application is denied, the employer may apply for a hearing within 20 days from the court finding.
Employers’ Failure to Pay Wages
Under state law, employers who have not obtained a waiver and who fail to pay an employee serving on a jury may be liable for treble damages and attorneys’ fees. If a juror sues the employer under these circumstances, extreme financial hardship is not permitted as a defense.
Employers’ Obligations – Federal Courts
Federal law does not require employers to pay their non-exempt employees’ wages for jury duty. Employers are, however, required to (1) consider employees on a leave of absence during jury service; (2) continue their insurance and other benefits according to established leave of absence policies; and (3) reinstate employees to their positions without loss of seniority. Federal jurors are paid $40 per day and, in most courts, reimbursed for reasonable transportation and parking expenses.
For exempt employees, deductions may not be made for absences of an employee caused by jury duty. The employer may, however, offset any amounts received by the employee as jury fees against the salary due for that particular week without loss of the exemption.
Employers’ Personnel Policies
Although not required to by law, many employers also pay the difference between jury duty pay and the employee’s regular wages. If your company has an employee handbook, it’s a good idea to include your jury duty policy in it to ensure that the policy is applied consistently.
Prohibited Actions by Employers
Both state and federal law prohibit employers from discharging, threatening or coercing employees who are summoned for jury duty or who are subpoenaed as witnesses in court proceedings. Employers may be fined up to $500 or imprisoned up to thirty days or both under state law and fined up to $1,000 per violation under federal law. In addition, employees who are discharged in violation of this law may seek reinstatement, lost wages and reasonable attorneys’ fees from the employer.
For more information, you can contact Jury Administration at 1-800-842-8175 Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. You can also check out Frequently Asked Questions concerning jury duty on the Web site for the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch. CBIA members can also call CBIA’s Telephone Consulting Services at 860-244-1900.