Jury summons as a contractor explained
Posted on 14th March 2019
Almost any adult in the UK can be summoned for jury service, and it is incredibly difficult to get out of without good reason. Selection is completely random; participants are selected from the electoral roll, and you would normally be expected to attend jury service for ten days – sometimes longer, depending on the case.
Permanent employees are almost always paid their full wage by their employer when reporting to court for jury service – it’s unusual for that not to happen, since the attendance at court is a legal requirement, and payment of salary during jury service is a benefit most employers offer. After all, jury service is a legal obligation, and nobody is exempt.
For the self-employed and contractors, it is a little trickier.
In rare cases, a contractor might be granted deferral or complete exclusion from attending jury service, if they can prove that their services are critical, and that they are the only person able to perform them at that time. This might be the case for a contractor working for an important government mission, for example.
Unfortunately though, most contractors will just have to accept that they are summoned, and hope the case doesn’t go on for too long!
I’m a contractor, and have received a summons for jury service. I am able to attend, but who do I have to inform?
Presuming you provide services to a client or a number of clients, you should inform them as soon as possible so that they can make alternative arrangements, if required.
If you work as a contractor through an umbrella company, you should inform the umbrella company as soon as possible. They are technically your employer, and you will have a contract of employment with them, presuming they are a reputable company. The umbrella company’s human resources team should have a policy in place that enables them to source appropriate cover for you so that your client doesn’t lose out on the services you provide.
Though it is not a legal obligation, some umbrella companies do continue to pay contractors while they are attending jury service. This is more common amongst the larger, more reputable companies, and it is one benefit of working as a contractor through an umbrella – though not a benefit you’ll guarantee will ever be used, as some people never get summoned for jury service at all.
What about limited company contractors?
When it comes to working as a contractor through a limited company, you only need to inform your client(s), because you are the company director and therefore in charge of your own wages. Your client may be disgruntled, but there really isn’t much you (or they) can do.
One unavoidable issue that limited company contractors face when attending court for jury service is a loss of earnings. Contractors only get paid for the work they carry out and not for sickness, holidays or other unavoidable reasons for not being able to work – like jury service. This can mean a huge loss of earnings for some contractors on high hourly or day rates – for example, an IT contractor working within the banking industry could be on anything as high as £500 a day!
Can I claim for loss of earnings if I’m summoned for jury service as a contractor?
The HM Courts & Tribunals service does offer some form of compensation for contractors who lose out on their wages while attending jury service, though it’s not a substantial amount for most people, and will still leave contractors out of pocket.
The maximum daily amount that can be claimed for a ten-day case lasting less than four hours per day is £32.47, which increases to £64.95 if the duty lasts for longer than four hours.
You can claim back travel, parking (if applicable), food and drink, and some loss of earnings, when attending court for jury service. You must ensure you claim the expenses back within twelve months of the date the jury service commenced – but if the case is likely to last several months, the court can make special arrangements for payment during your service.
To claim back your expenses, you should keep all evidence of loss of earnings, which can be your most recent tax return. You should also keep receipts for food, drink and travel from each day of service, along with anything else like childcare costs. For childcare, you must ensure that the person looking after your child(ren) fills in the childcare form which you will be given with your jury pack. You must also show the court your child(ren)’s birth certificate, or their passport.
Is there any insurance I can take out which will cover my wages if I’m called for jury service?
If you are concerned with the loss of earnings you may suffer if you’re summoned for jury service, it’s worth looking at taking out specific insurance, which can cover your earnings if you are summoned. It is normally a relatively cheap expense – usually no more than around £75 a year – and can provide peace of mind if you are worried about being called for jury service.
It is worth noting that there is no method in which people are called for jury service. The electoral roll picks people at random, and you may get picked more than once. On the other hand, there will be some people who are never picked at all.
The only people who are exempt from jury service are listed here, but, unfortunately, most people will have to attend if they are called.
If you have been called for jury duty, or you have served in the past year, we can help you figure out what expenses you can claim – so don’t hesitate to get in touch. If you would like to look into insurance policies to avoid the potential loss of earnings if summoned, we can put you in touch with industry specialists who can help.
Nicola J Sorrell -
Founder | Xero Champion | IR35 Expert
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