Jury and Witness Duty Leave Handbook Statement: Rhode Island

Author: Amy E. Mendenhall, Marissa L. Dragoo, Corinn Jackson, and Judith A. Paulson, Littler

When to Include This Statement

Rhode Island employers should consider including this statement in their handbook to educate employees, including supervisors, about the availability of leave for jury and witness duty and to demonstrate their compliance with Rhode Island's jury and witness duty leave laws.

Customizable Handbook Statement

Jury and Witness Duty Leave

The Company encourages all employees to fulfill their civic responsibilities and to respond to jury service summonses or subpoenas, attend court for prospective jury service, serve as a juror or give evidence or testify as a witness before a court or judicial, quasi-judicial, administrative or other entity with the authority to issue subpoenas. Under no circumstances will employees be terminated, or lose a wage increase, promotion or any other benefit of employment because they take leave to serve on a jury or comply with a subpoena.

Employees should promptly provide their supervisor with notice of any jury summons or subpoena. Verification of having served as a juror, potential juror or witness may also be required.

Time spent engaged in attending court for prospective jury service, serving as a juror or appearing as a witness in response to a subpoena is not compensable except that exempt employees will not incur any reduction in pay for a partial week's absence due to jury or witness duty.

Guidance for Employers

  • Rhode Island law protects employees' job when the employees serve on a jury or comply with a subpoena.
  • Employers may not cause an employee to lose his or her position, wage increase, promotion or any other benefit of employment because the employee has been called to serve on a jury.
  • Employers are also prohibited from terminating, threatening or otherwise taking any adverse action against an employee regarding his or her compensation, terms, conditions, locations or privileges of employment as a result of the employee's absence from work to comply with a subpoena. Employees are required to promptly notify their employers they have been served with a subpoena to give evidence or testify before any court within or out of the state of Rhode Island or before any judicial, quasi-judicial or another administrative body or entity with the authority to issue subpoenas.
  • Excuse employees from work to serve on a jury or comply with a subpoena to appear as a witness. All employees are covered by these laws.
  • Ask employees for proof of jury or witness service, if desired.
  • Rhode Island employers are not required to pay their employees for time spent on jury duty or serving as a witness. However, many employers do pay their employees for jury service, or at least some portion of it (e.g., the first five days), in recognition of the importance of this civic duty.
  • Employers that decide to compensate employees for time spent on jury duty should consider the employees' exempt or nonexempt status. If an employer decides to pay nonexempt employees for jury duty (usually the difference between regular pay and jury duty pay), the employer should specify that any pay will be calculated as regular base pay only (no overtime) and may want to limit the pay to some finite period.
  • In order to maintain exempt status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), exempt employees must generally be paid on a salary basis, meaning the employees should receive their predetermined compensation for any week in which they perform any work. Exempt employees must not experience a salary reduction due to a partial-week absence for jury or witness duty leave. However, when exempt employees are absent from work for less than one week for jury or witness duty, any daily compensation received from the government may be offset against the employees' salary.
  • Supervisors should be trained regarding how to respond to requests for leave so that they do not take any adverse actions (e.g., termination, demotion) against employees who are eligible for leave and who request or take leave.

Additional Resources

Jury and Witness Duty Leave Handbook Statement

Jury Duty Leave Laws by State