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Summation of Responses on Jury Duty

Paul S. Goldner

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Thanks to all who responded, here is a summation of what I learned about jury duty/snow days pay:

There is no federal law requiring you to pay for jury duty. Some states do require, so it would be worth it for you to contact a local employment attorney to find out. My smaller clients do not pay at all. Larger ones do pay for one or two weeks. If you decide to pay, make sure you put a limit on it. You'd hate to end up paying for someone to sit on an O.J. type trial!

Similarly, no federal law on snow days. I'm pretty sure there are no state laws on this, but again it would be good to ask a local lawyer. If someone comes to work and then can't work because of any reason outside of their control (e.g. building is closed) in some states they are required to receive show up pay. For example, in California they have to be paid at least 2 hours.

I would pay for my employee's time during jury duty. It was not their choice and I just chalk it up to my patriotic duty. Another tax I guess.

Your state law probably says EXACTLY what you MUST do about jury days and pay. To be on the safe side I'd also check out the federal wage and hour guys.

Failing some law, do what you'd like your employer to do for you!

Remember she gets paid some tiny sum for serving, which you can deduct from what you pay her.

Also some states have the system whereby you don't have to show up each day, you just call in to see if they need you after the first day.

Another possibility: jury duty often involves extensive waiting. Can she take a laptop and do work at the courthouse? Or take things she has to do otherwise? Better use of her time than reading a romance novel.

I can't tell you what to do because I don't know your agreement with the employee, however you let yourself in for legal problems when you don't have a clear understanding prior to employment on these kinds of issues.

The best way is to have an employee manual. There are computer programs you can buy with a complete manual that you can adjust to your liking. When you hire someone they need to sign a letter or agreement that they have read and will follow these guidelines. In addition the letter should contain a list of job duties the person is expected to perform. This prevents people from saying, "That's not my job". I always used to include a line at the bottom of the list that said, "And any other duties as assigned by management". Remember however that unless both you and the employee sign this and both receive a copy it's no good.

When you don't put it in writing people may really forget what was agreed and become angry with management, feeling they are being taken advantage of.

You also should have an attorney to ask the original question you posed in the SpeakerNet Newsletter. A state or federal law may cover what you do in this case.

I saw your question on SpeakerNet re: jury duty and snow days. I'm a human resource consultant in Wisconsin (formerly with an employment and labor law practice). It may vary by state, but in Wisconsin, you must allow employees time off from work for jury duty but the policies associated with it vary. Employers are NOT obligated to pay employees their regular pay for time on jury duty. However, some will pay the difference between jury duty and regular pay. If they do this, we always recommend they put a cap on it -- usually ten working days. If you offer no such benefit, then the employee simply has to take unpaid time off, vacation time, or other paid time off. You should develop a policy that lays this out.

Regarding bad weather, many of my clients have policies about this but the companies do NOT pay the employee's regular wages due to weather conditions. The policy may simply state that employees will be allowed to go home early, etc. due to inclement weather but this is either unpaid time or the employee may use paid time they have available to them.

You need to consult with an employment law attorney on that one (best if you work with one in your area). The answer depends upon numerous facts in your workplace place the possible applicability of local, state and federal law.

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