Employees have the right to time off work for a number of statutory reasons, including time off for public duties.

Nature of the right

Employees have the right to a reasonable amount of time off work to attend meetings or to do what is needed to fulfil certain public duties and services.

Examples of public duties include if they are a:

  • magistrate
  • local councillor
  • school governor
  • member of a health authority
  • member of a statutory tribunal.

Eligibility

This right is extended to employees, but not agency workers or self-employed contractors.

Duration

The law does not give a specific amount of time. It will depend on what is reasonable considering all the circumstances, so employers need to consider:

  • how long the employee needs to complete the duties
  • whether they have previously taken time off
  • how their absence will affect the business.

The time off needs to be agreed between the parties before the employee takes time off.

Notice and procedure

The law does not lay down any notice periods. Equally, it does not set out a particular procedure when requesting time off.

You may, however, have a company policy in place, which explains to employees how they should submit requests and how far in advance they should notify you of their need to take time off. The rules you adopt must be reasonable and practical.

Pay

Employers may pay employees for this time off, but they are under no statutory duty to do so.

Disputes

If an employee feels that the employer is not giving them enough time off, they may submit a grievance with their employer, who will need to deal with the complaint in accordance with their internal grievance procedure.

To find out more about this topic or time off for jury service, contact your Employment Law Adviser who can give you comprehensive and tailored advice.

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