Labor and Employment

Time Off for Jury Duty: What Are My Rights?

By Sachi Barreiro, Attorney, University of San Francisco School of Law
Learn about jury duty leave, including how much time off you’ll get and whether it’s paid.

Although it’s rare to actually be selected to serve on a jury, if you are, it could mean days, weeks, or even months away from work. And, even if you’re not ultimately selected, you might need to spend days at the courthouse waiting for your turn to be questioned. If you’re like most people, you are probably concerned about what this means for your work. Does your employer have to give you the time off? Do you get paid during this time? Find out the answers below. (To learn about workplace leave for other reasons, see time off from work page.)

How Much Time Off Will I Need for Jury Duty?

In many cases, if you receive a jury summons, you won’t need to miss much work. Some counties have adopted a “one-day, one-trial” system, which means jurors are only required to report to the courthouse on one particular day. If they’re aren’t selected for a jury that day, they are released. In other counties, you might be asked to be “on-call” for a week or two, meaning that you could be asked to report to the court any one of those days.

However, only up to 12 people (and one or two alternates) will ultimately be asked to serve on the jury, so most jurors won’t spend more than a day at the courthouse. A typical jury trial can last a week or two, or in rare cases, several weeks or months.

Is My Employer Required to Give Me Time Off for Jury Duty?

Under federal law, employers are prohibited from firing, disciplining, or taking any other negative action against an employee for serving on a jury in federal court. This means that you must be allowed to miss work to respond to a jury summons, or if selected, serve on a jury. Your employer can, however, require you to give reasonable notice of the need for time off.

Many states have similar laws, granting jury duty leave and prohibiting employers from firing or threatening to fire employees for serving on a jury in state court. Some state laws impose additional restrictions. For example, in Michigan, employers can’t require an employee to work a shift before or after jury duty, if the total number of hours would exceed his or her normal schedule.

Do I Get Paid During My Time Off?

Federal law does not require employers to pay employees for jury duty leave, nor do the laws of most states. A handful of states require employers to provide employees with at least some pay during jury service. A couple of these states require employers to pay an employee’s regular wages for the length of the service. However, other states have caps on how long the employer must pay wages. For example, in Massachusetts, employers must pay for the first three days; in Connecticut, employers must pay for the first five days.

The court will likely pay you a small juror fee each day for your service, though. The daily rate for serving on a federal jury is $40 to $50 per day, depending on how long the trial lasts. State law juror fees are usually lower, ranging from $10 to $20 per day. However, some states courts pay as little as $5 per day and as much as $50 per day. Some states also reimburse travel costs and other out-of-pocket expenses.

Special Pay Rules for Exempt Employees

Special rules apply to exempt employees under federal law. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) creates a few narrow categories of exempt employees who are not entitled to overtime pay. The most common exemptions are for professional employees, managers, and administrative workers who earn a certain minimum salary. (To learn more, see our article on the white-collar exemptions under the FLSA.)

In order to keep these employees classified as exempt—and therefore avoid paying them overtime—employers cannot dock their weekly pay for absences due to jury duty. The only exception is if the employee performs absolutely no work for the week. However, even a simple task such as checking emails qualifies as work performed. In practice, this means that exempt employees will often receive their usual wages if they need to miss some work due to jury service. Employers are allowed, however, to deduct any juror fees received by the employee from the court from their usual pay.
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