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Thursday
May272010

Time off for Jury Duty

We often get calls from employers asking us what wages, if any, they are required to pay an employee when he/she is out of work in response to a jury duty summons.  They also have questions about other issues related to jury duty service including how much notice the employee is required to give them, whether they can require an employee to come into work if released early, and whether or not they can deduct the amount that the employee is paid for jury duty service from the wages they pay to the employee for the same time period. 

The law is clear that the employer is required to give the employee time off for jury service.  Specifically, in the State of Georgia it is illegal to discharge or in any way penalize an employee because the employee is absent for the purposes of attending a judicial proceeding in response to a subpoena, summons for jury duty, or other court order (O.C.G.A. 34-1-3(a)). 

The statute does not specifically state that the employer is required to pay an employee his normal salary or wages when the employee is absent for jury duty.  Georgia’s Attorney General has answered the question, however, by issuing a written opinion stating that the “in any way penalize” language requires an employer to pay an employee his/her salary while missing work to serve on jury duty (Opinion of the Attorney General Number 89-55), and there is no limit to the number of days that the employer is required to pay the employee (i.e., the employer can not limit it to “5 days”, etc.).  Some employers choose to pay the employee his/her normal wages or salary less the amount that the employee was paid by the State for jury service.  While this is permissible, it is often more trouble than it is worth for the employer due to the payroll procedures involved with such practices. 

An employer may require an employee to give notice as soon as possible after receipt of a jury duty summons.  The employer may also require an employee to report to work if he/she is released from jury service and there is still time remaining on his/her shift or regularly scheduled work hours.