What happens if you are called for Jury Service as a freelancer, contractor or self-employed professional?
Posted on 25th January 2019 by Phil Ainley MCIM
This is a key question that many freelancers, contractors and self-employed professionals ask, not because they don’t want to play their part in jury service, but because they fear the impact it might have on their business and their finances.
Let’s start by identifying what Jury Service is and what your obligations are if you are called upon.
What is jury service?
When you are summoned to do jury service, you will sit on a trial as a juror for typically 10 working days. This can be extended should a trial you sit in take longer than expected to be resolved. You may also be required to sit as a juror for more than one trial.
You may not sit in trials for the whole of that period and you may have to wait two or three days before you are called to sit in your first trial.
What are your obligations?
You MUST do jury service when you are sent a summons, unless you have a valid reason to defer your jury service dates. You can only defer your jury service once.
An example of a valid reason for delaying your jury service can include:
- You already have a holiday booked
- You are having an operation
- Your employer cannot give you the time off work – Your employer MUST let you have time off work, but they can ask you to delay your jury service if your absence could have a serious impact on the business. Find out more about time away from work here.
There are also some reasonable grounds to be excused from jury service altogether, including:
- It infringes on your responsibilities as a carer
- It would be detrimental to services provided in the armed forces
- You are unable to speak and/or understand English.
For more information on deferment and excusal click here.
When you receive the jury service summons you MUST return it within 7 days. You can be fined up to £1,000 if you do not return the form or if you do not show up for jury service. Your jury service will be as close as possible to where you live.
Freelancers, contractors and the self-employed and jury service
For many, the thought of jury service is appealing, some even think of it as an honour to take part.
To others, being called up for jury service can be viewed as a hindrance on their personal and professional lives. This is especially true of the self-employed community.
The length of time away from their businesses, combined with the lack of access to a mobile phone or laptop throughout the day, can have a significant impact on their way of life and how their business is run.
What if I’m self-employed?
The first question that immediately springs to mind for the self-employed is – who is going to do the work while I’m on jury service?
If you work on your own as a freelancer, you may simply have to contact your clients and inform them of the situation so they can expect a delay in the delivery of their project.
If you own a small business with a couple of employees, you may be able to assign certain tasks to your staff while you are absent, then pick up the rest of the workload in the evenings or at weekends. You could also hire a temporary employee to help during your absence.
Another key question is that of remuneration while being on jury service.
For contractors, being summoned for jury service can be a massive hindrance to their contract. Contractors rely on their daily/hourly rate of pay, so having to take time away from their contract can result in a significant shortfall in revenue.
As an employee, your employer is not obliged to subsidise your time away from work for jury service, but you may be given the choice to take the time as paid holiday. If you are a Limited Company contractor or freelance professional you will not have this option, but you can claim some expenses.
What expenses can I claim?
There is a limit to how much you can claim per day. Jury service expenses you can claim usually include:
- Travel and parking costs
- Food and drink
- A contribution to loss of earnings and other expenses
Note: Financial support and benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, are unaffected for the first 8 weeks you are on jury service.
Below is a complete table of the expenses you can claim:
Travel and parking costs
|How you travel to court||The court will pay|
|Bus or underground||Cost of the ticket|
|Train||Cost of the ticket (2nd class return fare)|
|Bicycle||9.6p per mile|
|Motorcycle||31.4p per mile|
|Car||31.4p per mile – ask the court for permission if you need to pay for parking|
|Car – for one other juror as a passenger||4.2p per mile|
|Car – for each additional passenger||3.2p per mile|
|Taxi||The fare – ask the court for permission before using a taxi|
Food and drink
|Length of time each day you’re away from home or work||The court will pay up to|
|Up to and including 10 hours a day||£5.71 per day|
|Over 10 hours a day||£12.17 per day|
Loss of earnings and other expenses
This includes the cost of employing a child-minder or carer, if it’s outside your usual care arrangements.
|Length of jury service||Time spent each day||Maximum daily amount you can claim|
|First 10 days||4 hours or under||£32.47|
|First 10 days||Over 4 hours||£64.95|
|Day 11 to day 200||4 hours or under||£64.95|
|Day 11 to day 200||Over 4 hours||£129.91|
|After day 201||4 hours or under||£114.03|
|After day 201||Over 4 hours||£228.06|
Information up-to-date as of 15.1.2019
Accommodation – The court will arrange accommodation if you’re asked to stay overnight.
As can be seen from the table above, for a contractor or freelancer, expenses totaling £64.95 per day would be very low in comparison with their usual day rate.
This would mean that attending jury service would represent in a significant loss of earnings and cause potential financial problems as a result. Couple this with the fact that before any expenses are paid out, the individual is required to provide evidence of loss of earnings.
Insuring yourself while attending jury service
In a response to situations such as this, Caunce O’Hara offer a Tax Enquiry & Legal Expenses insurance policy.
One of the benefits of Tax Enquiry & Legal Expenses insurance is that it will cover you in the event of being called upon for jury service.
The policy will cover the insured person’s net salary or wages for the time they are absent from work, less the amount the court or tribunal have paid them, or less the amount their employer has paid them.
The policy premium is only £75.00 per year and can be purchased quickly and easily online HERE. For further information you can call one of our friendly team on 0333 321 1403Back to News