From time to time employees are summoned for jury service.  Does the employer have to agree?

Employees must attend jury service and employers must also allow the employees to attend jury service, unless the employee’s absence will cause difficulty for the employer. 

If special commitments will cause difficulty, the employer can provide the employee with a letter to support their application to be excused from jury service, or to have the jury service deferred to another time.

If an employer dismisses their employee, or threatens to dismiss them, or otherwise threatens their position, the employer can be convicted of an offence and also receive a fine of up to $10,000.  An employee may also bring a personal grievance against the Employer.

Payment during the time of jury service

The Ministry of Justice usually pays a small attendance fee to jury members.  Employers don’t have to pay employees while they are doing their jury service, but may choose to top up the money the employee receives from the Ministry of Justice.

It is recommended that Employment Agreements deal with jury service so that both parties know where they stand.

Jeanine Badenhorst
Employment Lawyer
Wellington