The Dos and Don’ts of Jury Duty: A Quick Guide for Employers and Employees

Gusto Editors

As you’re flipping through the mail, something official-looking catches your eye: a letter from the court. It’s a summons for jury duty.

Your first reaction might be to groan over it, feeling that getting called in for jury duty is going to disrupt your life, business, or work schedule. But when you think about it, being on a jury and working towards justice is one of the engines that drives our democracy. Performing your civic duty should never make you feel uneasy, especially when it comes to work.

So if you’re an employer or employer stressed about that jury duty summons, have no fear. With some thoughtful education, planning, and communication, jury duty can be an easier, more enjoyable process for all.

How to navigate jury duty as an employer

1. Brush up on your state’s jury duty leave laws and regulations.

It’s a big no-no to fire, threaten, intimidate, or coerce employees for serving. The Jury System Improvement Act of 1978, a federal law, prohibits those actions for those serving in federal court, and most state laws provide similar protections for jurors serving in state courts or local ones. Also, there are some jury duty laws in certain states that require employers to pay their employees for their jury duty service, which may also be limited to a certain amount or time period.

According to Justia, an online legal database, here’s a state-by-state summary covering when employers do need compensate employees during their jury duty and when they don’t:

StatePaid leave?State law
AlabamaYes (usual pay)Code of Alabama Section 12-16-8
AlaskaNoAlaska Statutes Section 09.20.037
ArizonaNoArizona Revised Statutes Section 21-236
ArkansasNoArkansas Code Section 16-31-106
CaliforniaNoCalifornia Labor Code Section 230
ColoradoYes (regular wages up to $50 per day for first 3 days)Colorado Revised Statutes Section 13-71-126; § 13-71-133; § 13-71-134
ConnecticutYes (regular wages for first 5 days)Connecticut General Statutes Section 51-247a
DelawareNo10 Delaware Code Section 4515
FloridaNot required, but jurors who do not continue to receive regular wages are paid $15 per day from the state for the first 3 days and $30 per day afterward. (Note: Check county ordinances, too, which may have separate requirements. For instance, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties mandate employers pay employees for jury duty absences.)Florida Statutes Section 40.271
GeorgiaYes, according to Attorney General opinion (regular wages minus funds received for jury service).Georgia Code Section 34-1-3
HawaiiNoHawaii Revised Statutes Section 612-25
IdahoNoIdaho Code Section 2-218
IllinoisNo705 Illinois Compiled Statutes Section 310/10.1
IndianaNoIndiana Code Section 35-44.1-2-1; § 34-28-4-1
IowaNoIowa Code Section 607A.45
KansasNoKansas Statutes Section 43-173
KentuckyNoKentucky Revised Statutes Section 29A.160
LouisianaYes (1 day of full wages)Louisiana Revised Statutes Section 23:965
MaineNo14 Maine Revised Statutes Section 1218
MarylandNoMaryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings Code Section 8-501; § 8-502
MassachusettsYes (3 days at regular wages), unless extreme financial hardship for employer; state pays reasonable compensation for first 3 days (up to $50 per day) if employer would face extreme financial hardship.Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 234A, Section 61; Ch. 234A, § 48; Ch. 234A, § 60
MichiganNoMichigan Compiled Laws Section 600.1348
MinnesotaNoMinnesota Statutes Section 593.50
MississippiNoMississippi Code Section 13-5-35
MissouriNoMissouri Revised Statutes Section 494.460
NebraskaYes (normal wages, reduced by compensation paid by court for jury duty)Nebraska Revised Statutes Section 25-1674
NevadaNoNevada Revised Statutes Section 6.190
New HampshireNoNew Hampshire Revised Statutes Section 500-A:14
New JerseyNoNew Jersey Revised Statutes Section 2B:20-17
New MexicoNoNew Mexico Statutes Section 38-5-18
New YorkEmployers with 11 or more employees must not withhold the first $40 of an employee’s daily wage during the first 3 days of jury service.New York Judiciary Law Section 519
North CarolinaNoNorth Carolina General Statutes Section 9-32
North DakotaNoNorth Dakota Century Code Section 27-09.1-17
OhioNoOhio Revised Code Section 2313.19
OklahomaNo (employee can decide whether to use paid leave)Oklahoma Statutes Section 38-35
OregonNoOregon Revised Statutes Section 10.090
PennsylvaniaNo42 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Section 4563
Rhode IslandNo (unless there is a contract or collective bargaining agreement that states otherwise)Rhode Island General Laws Section 9-9-28
South CarolinaNoSouth Carolina Code of Laws Section 41-1-70
South DakotaDiscretion of employerSouth Dakota Codified Laws Section 16-13-41.1; § 16-13-41.2
TennesseeYes (usual compensation minus any fee or compensation for serving as juror), except for employers with fewer than five employees or employees who have been employed by the employer on a temporary basis for less than six months.Tennessee Code Section 22-4-106
TexasNoTexas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Section 122.001
UtahNoUtah Code Section 78B-1-116
VermontNo21 Vermont Statutes Section 499
VirginiaNoCode of Virginia Section 18.2-465.1
WashingtonNoRevised Code of Washington Section 2.36.165
Washington, DCYes (usual compensation minus fee received for jury service when jury service lasts 5 days or less)District of Columbia Code Section 11-1913; § 15-718
West VirginiaNoWest Virginia Code Section 52-3-1
WisconsinNoWisconsin Statutes 756.255
WyomingNoWyoming Statutes Section 1-11-401

2. Put a plan in place.

Jury service is a disruption you’re guaranteed to face as a business owner, so in anticipation of when employees will get called in for jury duty in the future, what do you need to know and what steps should you take to prepare for when that will happen?

  • Be clear about your jury duty policies. Make sure your employees have a solid understanding of the rules, so they can rest easy knowing exactly what will happen while they’re away. For example, when do they have to tell you they’ve been summoned? How much paid time off will you offer? Who will step in to cover them?
  • Be proactive about communicating that your employees’ jobs are safe. While it may put a strain on your business, be explicit about the fact that their jobs are protected while doing their civic duty.

Thinking through these situations in advance—along with documenting your policies and sharing them with your employees (such as in an employee handbook)—will help smooth the transitions that need to take place to support your team and your business during the temporary periods anyone will be absent for jury duty.

3. Prepare ahead in case you’re summoned.

Don’t stress when receiving a summons yourself. Carefully read the letter you received, as it will outline all the steps needed to handle and respond to your own jury duty summons. If you can’t step away from your business, in some areas, you can either ask for a postponement or an excusal from service.

In case your request to be excused for undue hardship, extreme inconvenience, or another reason isn’t accepted, have a backup plan ready. That might include delegating and training trustworthy employees with specific responsibilities in advance. (Even if you are excused from jury duty, you’ll be glad you did the next time you want to take a vacation.)

How to navigate jury duty as an employee

1. Don’t wait until the last minute to read your jury duty summons.

Many states will allow you to postpone your summons, but only if you respond by a certain date. Pro tip: Rip open that letter as soon as it arrives.

2. Let your employer, manager, and teammates know as soon as you’re called for jury duty.

The length of time you’ll serve as a juror is unknown: It could take half a day, half a month, and in rare instances, half a year. So it’s important to notify your team immediately and allow them ample time to plan around your absence.

3. Don’t worry about losing your job.

Relax … you won’t lose your job for serving. If your employer pressures you to get out of jury duty, report them to the court. Do the same if your employer pressures you to use PTO or sick leave to cover your days of service, if this is prohibited in your state.

4. Understand your state’s jury duty leave laws and regulations.

Your employee protections vary by state, and there’s a chance your employer may not be fully aware of them. The best way to protect yourself is to read up on your rights.

5. Understand your employer’s jury duty policies before you show up to serve.

When you’re in the courtroom, the last thing you want to do is try to decode your company’s jury duty policy.

Knowing how much paid time off you can expect to receive, who will be covering for you, and how your employer expects you to handle loose ends, will make things much less stressful.

6. Communicate your circumstances.

If serving on the jury would be a financial hardship, let the judicial committee know, as it may influence their consideration of you. Just be prepared to prove it with pay stubs, company policies, and other supporting documents.

7. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

It’s your right to understand the full scope of the situation, both regarding your employer’s jury duty policies and the length of the trial at hand. Ask away so everyone is on the same page.

8. Once you serve, you’re one and done, at least for a while.

According to federal law, you’re not required to serve more than once every two years. In some instances, your temporary exemption from service may be for longer, depending on the state, district, and the length of service. If you report for service but don’t serve, you won’t be in the jury pool that could get summoned for the next year. If you’re summoned again, sooner than expected, get in touch with the court so they can correct the error. You’ll need to share any proof of service, so definitely save the documentation that you received, because you’ll need it in instances like that.

Again, depending on whether you’re served in a local, state, or federal court, the requirements based on your jurisdiction can vary for U.S. citizens. For example, when compared to the federal law, the rules for jury duty in New York provide even longer time periods for eligibility after service. According to, the website for the New York State Unified Court System:

“A person who serves in a State or Federal court in New York—either by reporting in person or by being available to serve via a telephone call-in system—normally is not eligible to serve again in the New York State courts for at least six years. A juror who serves for more than ten days normally is not eligible to serve again in the New York State courts for at least eight years.”

Jury duty FAQs

Do employers have to pay employees during jury duty?

Although the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require employers to pay employees during their days of service, many states do require employers to pay for employee time during jury service, including Connecticut and Massachusetts. Some states make distinctions between full-time and part-time employees.

Do you have to use PTO or sick leave for jury duty?

No federal law addresses the use of PTO or sick leave, but the policy is not permitted in many states, such as Virginia, New Jersey, and Oregon. The court should inform you of your rights during the jury selection process, but check with your local government if you’re unsure.

Can an employer ask for proof of jury duty?

In many states, employers are allowed to request proof of jury duty, which employees can request from the local court system. Employees can work with human resources to ensure they’re compliant with company policy.

What happens if you don’t show up for jury duty?

Failure to appear for jury duty—for state courts, federal courts, or grand jury duties—often results in contempt of court charges and financial penalties. In some cases, a warrant for arrest may be issued, and other legal consequences may apply.

Serving on a jury should be a meaningful way to participate in our country’s judicial system, not a source of anguish back at the office.

So when that jury duty letter crosses your path, try thinking about your day in court a little differently. With some foresight, you might actually enjoy sitting in a room with 11 strangers, all working together to reach a single goal.

Gusto Editors Gusto Editors, contributing authors on Gusto, provide actionable tips and expert advice on HR and payroll for successful business management.
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