Paying Employees on Jury Duty Leave

Jury duty is never fun, not for the person who has been summoned as a juror, and especially not for their employer who has to go on with one less employee. As an employer it can be extremely frustrating to have your staff pulled away for jury duty, but there isn’t much you can do about it other than disperse work to others in order to make up for that absence of the juror. The U.S. has a few provisions set in place to protect workers who do get called for jury duty in order to make sure their employment is not at jeopardy. 

The Jury Systems Improvement Act established in 1978 prohibits employers from firing, threatening to fire, intimidating, or coercing employees due to their jury duty service or attendance in connection with jury service. This Act also states that employers need to treat those employees as if they are on a leave of absence in order to retain benefits and seniority. Each state has varying laws in accordance with this act so be sure to check what your state requires of you. 

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) prohibits employers from docking the pay of an exempt employee if they miss less than a week for jury duty. This is only if the the employee does some work still throughout that week. If the exempt employee does not work for one or more full weeks while serving as a juror, you are not legally required to pay them. As an employer, you may want to set up a policy specific to employees serving jury duty. According to the American Payroll Association, many employers pay employees while on jury duty, but then offset the pay received by jury duty against the employee’s wages. As an employer you will need to decide how you wish to deal with federal taxes from wages paid out while your employee was serving jury duty. This situation will vary based on if you pay your employee their normal wages, if you pay a different wage, or if you make your employee turn over their jury duty pay. Keep in mind the payment received from jury duty is not eligible for federal tax withholding or social security, Medicare, and FUTA. 

If you have nonexempt workers, there is no requirement from the FLSA to pay those individuals should they be away on jury duty. If you live in Michigan, as an employer you are not allowed to require a worker to work while they are on jury duty if the combined hours of work and jury duty will exceed the number of hours normally worked. However, if your employee voluntarily agrees to work, or is under a collective bargaining agreement, this is allowable. In Michigan, your employees may be more likely to work while also maintaining an active presence as a juror due to the lack of pay required for them as they serve.

Source: American Payroll Association: APA’s Guide to State Payroll Laws - 2016 Edition