Jury Service: Employer Obligations

13 September, 2021 | Carolyn Ranson

If your employee required to attend jury service, it is important that you as an employer understand how to fulfill your obligations.

Certain classes of people are prohibited from serving on a jury, including practising lawyers, Judges, Police, certain ex-prisoners, MPs, some JPs and some government employees.  For all other New Zealanders between the ages of 18 and 65, jury service is mandatory and is recognised as an important community service which contributes to a well-functioning justice system. As such, the law provides that an employee’s job is protected when they are compelled to attend to their jury duties. An employer cannot stop or restrict an employee from performing their jury service.

Consequences for employers not complying

Serious penalties apply if an employer attempts to withhold an employee from attending jury duty.  If an employer dismisses an employee, threatens to dismiss an employee, or threatens the employee’s position within the business they could be convicted of an offence and be subject to a fine of up to $10,000. The employee may also bring a personal grievance against the employer in such circumstances. Requiring an employee to use their annual leave to cover their time on jury duty is contrary to law.

Requesting jury service to be delayed for your employee

If the absence of an employee on jury service would cause serious complications to arise due to special circumstances, the employee may submit a letter on behalf of the employer requesting an exemption from jury service. In that case, the court may agree to defer the employee’s jury service to a later date within the next year.

Juror selection is random from the electoral role. If your employee has served on a jury within the last two years, they can request to be excused.  Similarly, if your employee is over 65, is permanently disabled or has a chronic illness, they can request to be excused for that particular occasion or request to be permanently removed from jury selection pool.

How long will the jury service last?

The length of time and dates that an employee is required to be excused from work to perform jury service depends on the particular case. Particular information about an employee’s jury service requirements is often mentioned in the juror summons letter they receive.

Do I have to pay my employee while they are on jury service?

It is not a legal requirement for an employer to pay an employee for the time they are away on jury duty unless it is provided for in the employment agreement – it is essentially a type of leave without pay.

However, the employee receives a small fee for attending the service and their personal expenses for the day are covered by the court.  While some employers choose to pay the difference between the amount the court pays the employee and the employee’s regular wages, this is not mandatory.

How much is the employee paid by the Ministry of Justice?

ministry of justice employee costs

If your employee required to attend jury service, it is important that you as an employer understand how to fulfill your obligations.
Contact our Employment Law experts today to set up an appointment.

email Carolyn
+64 9 837 6840

About the author

An experienced employment, estate litigation and elder law lawyer, Carolyn completed her law degree at City University, London in 1996. She was in house legal counsel for a large retirement village operator, before entering private practice in 2000. She joined
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