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Time Off for Jury Duty: It's the Law

By Deanne Katz, Esq. | Last updated on

It's safe to say no one looks forward to a jury duty summons, but at least you get time off for jury duty when you're called.

Yes that's right, you at least get to take a few vacation days in exchange for serving jury duty. The problem is your "vacation" will be spent in a courtroom. But at least you're doing your civic duty, right?

But how do you go about telling your boss about this unscheduled, yet mandatory vacation? It might help to start with the law.

Most state have laws in place that protect workers who get called for jury duty.

Most prohibit employers from firing or disciplining employees who take time off for jury service. They also punish employers who discourage employees from serving on a jury or try to pressure employees into not serving on the jury.

Unfortunately, the laws in most states don't mandate paid time off. Your employer has to let you go to jury duty, but likely doesn't have to pay you while it happens.

In some cases, you might be able to use accrued paid vacation time while on jury duty. In states that require your employer to pay you during duty, you might have to use that up first.

Making Arrangements at Work

With these legal protections to back you up, tell your employer about your jury duty summons as soon as you get it.

Based on how your state does jury service, you may not actually have to take time off if your number isn't called. But it's still good to give your employer notice.

If you run into problems, politely and non-threateningly mention what the law in your state requires. If you encounter resistance, you may also want to get some added authority on your side: Don't hesitate to contact your state's Department of Labor, or even a local attorney if you need help.

Jury duty isn't anyone's favorite activity, but it isn't like doing manual labor either. It may not be a beach vacation, but it's still a day or two out of the office.

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