Do Employers Need to Pay for Jury Duty?

A courtroom with wooden paneling and chairs.
By Joe Sharpe | 04/24/2023 | 15 min read

When an employee is summoned for jury duty, many employers are unclear about their obligation to pay (or not pay) an employee for time spent fulfilling this civic responsibility. Whether it’s understanding federal policy, variations in state policies, or developing jury duty pay protocols within your organization, we’re here to help your business prepare for these circumstances and develop a jury duty pay policy that is legally compliant and reflective of company values.

Understanding Federal Policy

Strictly speaking, no federal law mandates that employers must provide paid leave to employees for jury duty service. Federal law does forbid employers from terminating an employee due to jury duty service (regardless of the time spent fulfilling service) or threatening to reduce hours or change employee classification. The Jury System Improvement Act of 1978 simply requires that employers provide time off to complete jury duty service. In general, federal law does not provide guidelines regarding baseline compensation or PTO management for jury duty service.

Understanding State Laws

Although federal law offers minimal guidance on how to navigate jury duty pay, many states have formulated laws that require either partial or full compensation from the employer, or prohibit the docking of PTO, vacation time, or pay during the period of jury duty service.

In the following states, employers are prohibited from docking paid leave in any form (personal, PTO, sick leave, or vacation) during jury duty service:

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia.

In the following states and jurisdictions, employers are required to provide full or partial pay for jury duty:

Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C.

Many state laws offer additional (and varied) guidelines regarding all of the following:

  • Employees providing “reasonable notice” of forthcoming jury duty service
  • The period of time that full pay is required (anywhere from 1-5 days to the full period of service).
  • Pay requirements based on the number of employees/company size
  • In which circumstances jury duty service can be delayed (often due to the size of a company’s workforce)
  • Distinct requirements for public vs. private employees
  • Prohibitions on scheduling employee work hours within 8 hours of jury duty service

Developing a Company Jury Duty Pay Policy

The jury duty pay policy you develop for your organization should first be based on any municipal or state requirements regarding jury duty service. With such a range of variations in jurisdictional policy, it’s important to confirm this information with your HR consultant before developing a company policy that also aligns with the values of your business.

Some employers opt to pay their employee’s total wages regardless of the extent of their jury duty service, and without docking any paid leave. In general, whether it’s required by law in your jurisdiction or not, offering at least partial compensation during an employee’s jury duty service is advisable. It’s important to recognize that employees are legally obligated to complete jury duty service and often experience personal and financial inconveniences as a result of the process. When an employer provides partial or full pay and refrains from docking paid leave over the fulfillment of a civic responsibility, it demonstrates support for the employee and their circumstances, and is likely to improve employee satisfaction and employee retention.

Develop a Jury Duty Pay Policy that Supports Your Business and Employees

Understanding local, state, and federal laws is one part of remaining compliant with regulations related to jury duty service. The next step is developing a jury duty pay policy that is consistent with and reflective of your organization’s core values. This can help your business support employee well-being and offer financial security that boosts employee retention.

If you’re an employer and have questions about your legal obligations to pay employees for jury duty, or would like assistance managing time off for civic duty, contact us today to formulate a policy that supports you and your employees.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided herein does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services or professional consulting of any kind. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, tax, accounting, or other professional advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser who has been provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation and for your particular state(s) of operation.