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HR Support on Time Off for Civic Duty

Editor's Note: Comply with state leave laws related to civic duties.

Melissa S. BurdorfOverview: Legal requirements to allow employees to take time off to perform civic duties generally fall to the states or municipalities.

Serving on a jury is protected by both federal and state laws. The federal Jury Systems Improvement Act prohibits employers from punishing employees who serve or are called to serve jury duty and requires jurors to be reinstated to their positions upon completion of jury service. Most states have jury duty laws that are equal to or more stringent than the federal law. For example, the federal law does not require employers to pay employees on jury duty leave, but some state laws require employees to be paid for the first few days of jury service, less any compensation from the court. Also, state laws may have rules related to employee notification to the employer and jury service postponement requests. Some states also protect employees appearing in court as a witness; a crime victim; a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault and/or stalking; and a family member of such victims.

Voting in local, state and federal elections is another important civic duty. However, there are no federal laws requiring employers to provide employees with time off to vote. Most states do require employers to provide time off to vote, unless polls are open for a minimum amount of time before or after an employee's work shift. Some states also protect the employment of appointed election officials on election days while they perform their election duties and require leaves of absence for elected officials and members of the state General or Legislative Assembly.

Trends: Courts only accept the most urgent of excuses to get out of jury duty (e.g., serious health problem). That an employee is very busy at work or that the employer will be short-staffed are usually not considered urgent by a court. Employers certainly should not punish employees who are unable to postpone or get out of jury duty.

Author: Melissa S. Burdorf, JD, XpertHR Legal Editor

New and Updated

  • Civil Air Patrol Leave Handbook Statement: Virginia

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Virginia employers should include this model policy in their handbook to educate employees who qualify about the availability of leave for Virginia Civil Air Patrol training and missions and to demonstrate compliance with the law.

  • Jury Duty: Nevada

    Type:
    Employment Law Manual

    In-depth review of the spectrum of Nevada employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to jury duty leave.

  • Jury Duty Leave Handbook Statement: Florida

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Revised policy and guidance to further clarify an employee’s use of leave when serving as a juror.

  • Jury and Witness Duty Leave Handbook Statement: Rhode Island

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Updated when to include, policy and guidance to reflect an employee's right to take unpaid time off to respond to a subpoena, effective June 6, 2016.

  • Jury Duty: Rhode Island

    Type:
    Employment Law Manual

    In-depth review of the spectrum of Rhode Island employment law requirements HR must follow with respect jury duty.

  • Type:
    Legal Timetable

  • Jury Duty: Federal

    Type:
    Employment Law Manual

    Enhanced to improve the comprehensiveness, organization and scope of coverage.

  • Jury and Witness Duty Leave Handbook Statement: Nevada

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Nevada employers seeking to educate employees, including supervisors, about the availability of leave for service as a juror or witness and to demonstrate their compliance with Nevada's jury duty leave and witness duty laws should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • Jury and Witness Duty Leave Handbook Statement: California

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    California employers seeking to educate employees, including supervisors, about the availability of jury and witness duty leave and to demonstrate their compliance with California's jury and witness duty leave law should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • Jury Duty Leave Handbook Statement: New Jersey

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    New Jersey employers seeking to educate employees, including supervisors, about the availability of jury duty and to demonstrate their compliance with New Jersey's jury duty leave law should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.