As a citizen of New Zealand, an employee of yours may, at some stage, be called up for jury service. If this occurs, they are required to attend, and as their employer you must give them the necessary time away from work.
Failing to allow your employee to attend jury service, or terminating their employment as a result of their attendance (including threatening to terminate), can result in fines of up to $10,000, in addition to the ability of an employee to bring a personal grievance.
Employees attending jury service will be paid an attendance fee from the Ministry of Justice. However, the fee is not intended to replace a wage or salary, but rather to thank the juror for their attendance. As such, the fee is rather small, and will only cover the costs incurred by the employee as a result of attending jury service.
You are not required to pay employees on jury service. However, you can elect to provide a top up payment. Placing a clause around jury service in your employment agreement or covering this topic with an internal policy can therefore be beneficial.
Your business being impacted is a concern for the Ministry of Justice. Therefore, if your employee is called for jury service, and their absence will affect the day to day running of the business, you can write a letter to support an application for them to be exempt from attending. This letter will need to very clearly outline the hardship the Company will experience if this employee is not at work.
This is referred to as deferring jury service, and can only be done once. If your employee puts off jury service successfully, they will need to serve within the next 12 months.
In the case where your employee wishes to put off jury service indefinitely, it can only be done with a health, disability, family or other significant personal circumstance creating an issue. Any impact on your business will not be included as a valid reason for indefinitely deferring jury service.
For advice on how to manage employees on jury service, contact Employsure on 0800 675 700.