If you are between 18-70 years of age, you could find yourself randomly selected from the electoral register and called for jury service. Some people are never called, while others get called more than once.
When you’re sent a jury summons form you have seven days to reply online or by post, and you can be fined up to £1,000 if you do not return the form or turn up for your jury service.
Jury service is a public duty so you are required to serve – unless you are disqualified because you have a criminal record or mental illness, have the right to be excused or have a valid reason for discretionary excusal.
As with some other health professions, pharmacists are no longer automatically exempt, but anyone can apply for deferral of jury service by explaining why they wish to be deferred (e.g. they have a holiday booked) although a person may only defer once up to a maximum of 12 months from the original date.
Jury service usually lasts up to 10 days, but can be longer, and the law requires that you must allow staff time off if they’re summoned to serve.
You can ask your employee to try to delay their jury service if their absence would seriously harm your business, but they will need a letter from you explaining why.
The court does not pay jurors for their service, but they can claim expenses such as food, drink and travel. Employers are not required to pay staff while they’re doing jury service, but many do. If you carry on paying your employee, work out the tax and National Insurance contributions in the normal way.
If you don’t pay your employee, they can claim a loss of earnings allowance from the court. You’ll need to fill in a certificate of loss of earnings for them, which they will have received with their jury service letter.
You may decide to top up your employee’s loss of earnings allowance so they don’t lose out on pay, in which case you can do this on the same certificate. To work out the top-up payment, subtract the court allowance from your employee’s usual take-home pay. This will give you the amount you need to give your employee. Use your payroll software to work out the ‘net to gross’ amount, and deduct tax and National Insurance from it.
Should you be called to serve on a jury and your salary is not recoverable from an employer or from the courts, the PDA offers jury service reimbursement of up to £100 per day for members indemnified by the insurance from The Pharmacy Insurance Agency. Such protection does not apply for the first five days of jury service, however, and self-employed income is not indemnified.
Many jurors can find the whole process distressing – particularly if they have been called to sit on a jury for serious criminal cases such as murder, assault, burglary or fraud.
If you or a staff member have served on a jury and are upset by the trial, court staff can help, while GPs can also signpost to other support, as can the Samaritans.
If you are struggling to support an employee on their return to work – or if you are having a hard time yourself – then you, or they, can get free, confidential services and advice from Pharmacist Support. All enquiries are dealt with in complete confidence and assistance is provided in many forms (on a short- or long-term basis), specifically tailored to an individual’s situation.