Employers

If you have an employee who has been summoned for jury service in Victoria, you may have questions about how jury service might affect their availability for work and about your legal responsibilities.

The most common questions are answered on this page. If your questions are not answered, or you need more information, please call the Juries Commissioner's Office on (03) 8636 6800.

Why does my employee have to do jury service?

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The right to trial by jury is a fundamental part of our democratic society. The jury system protects the individual's rights and involves the community in the administration of justice. Jury service is the duty and right of all citizens. 

How are jurors selected?

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Prospective jurors are selected at random from the Victorian electoral roll. They are first sent a Notice of Selection with an Eligibility Form to determine whether they are eligible and available for jury service in a certain period. Those who are eligible are then sent a Jury Summons, advising them of the date on which they are to commence jury service. 

Will my employee definitely be required for jury service on the date of their summons?

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Not necessarily. After 4.30pm the day before their summons date, your employee must visit www.juries.vic.gov.au or call 1 300 987 917 to check whether they are needed the next day. If your employee has signed up for SMS notifications, he or she will get an SMS notification as well. 

If your employee is not required on the day of their summons, their jury service might be deferred to the next or another day, or be cancelled altogether. As an employer, you should plan for all of these possibilities.

If my employee is required for jury service, how long will this take?

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If your employee is selected for a trial, they must attend every weekday until the end of the trial. The average length of a jury trial is 7-10 business days. As an employer, you should be prepared for an employee to serve for this length of time, as you would if they were on holiday or became ill.

When will I know how long my employee will be away?

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Prospective jurors generally know by 4pm on their first day of jury service if they have been selected for a trial and if so, how long it is estimated to last. Speak with your employee and make arrangements for them to contact you at the end of the day to confirm if they have been selected for a trial or not.

 

Can jury service be deferred to a more convenient time?

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By law you must release employees when they are summoned for jury service. 

If it would be very difficult to have your employee away, they can ask for their jury service to be deferred to a later date. They must do this in advance, either by statutory declaration or in person.

If a deferral is granted, the employee will be expected to attend when they are next summoned. A second deferral will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.

Generally, employees cannot be excused from jury service for work reasons. An application for excuse may be granted if they are so essential to the operation of a business that the business would close if they had to be absent for jury service.

What happens if my employee does not attend jury service or I stop them from attending?

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There are severe financial penalties for people selected for jury service who fail to attend. There are also significant penalties for employers who prevent employees from attending or penalise them for attending jury service.

These penalties are detailed in section 76 of the Juries Act 2000 (Vic). The Act provides for fines of up to $60,000 for a body corporate and up to a $12,000 fine or 12 months imprisonment for an individual.

Do I have to pay my employee while they are on jury service?

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Yes. Jury payments are currently $40 per day for the first six days and $80 per day thereafter. As an employer, you must pay your employee the difference between the amount they receive for jury service and the amount they would reasonably expect to have earned had they been at work that day, and for the duration of the trial.

This applies to permanent, part-time and casual employees, but not to independent contractors.

This requirement is detailed in section 52 of the Juries Act 2000 (Vic).  It is important to note that in Victoria, the Juries Act 2000 (Vic) supersedes the Fair Work Act 2009 and all enterprise bargaining agreements and employment contracts.

Will my employee be able to work during the trial?

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In many circumstances, the answer is no. Being a juror is a full-time job, Monday to Friday. However, there may be instances or circumstances whereby an employee could reasonably go to work during a trial, say if the court finishes early or does not sit on a particular day. Occasional, one-off work on a weekend might be appropriate in some circumstances. 

The underpinning principle to be considered is the juror's health and well being. Employers and the Juries Commissioner alike are obliged to protect the health and safety of employees/jurors, which includes monitoring maximum work hours/periods, minimum break requirements and days worked consecutively. Jury service is considered work when assessing these obligations.  

This page was last updated: Friday 12 August 2016 - 4:41pm