How freelancers, contractors and self-employed professionals can successfully manage a call-up for jury service

How freelancers, contractors and self-employed professionals can successfully negotiate a call-up for jury service

“What happens if I am called up for jury service?” is a question that many freelancers, contractors and self-employed professionals ask; not because they don’t want to play their part, but because they fear the impact it might have on their business and their finances.

What is jury service?

It is important to identify what Jury Service is and what your obligations are if you are summoned to attend.

When you are called-up for jury service you will sit on a trial as a juror, typically for 10 working days. You need to be aware that this can be extended should a trial you sit in take longer than expected to be resolved. You may also be required to sit as a juror for more than one trial whilst on jury service.

You might not sit in trials for the whole of the 10 day period, and you may have to wait two or three days before you are called to sit in your first trial.

What are your obligations?

You MUST do jury service when you are sent a summons, unless you have a valid reason to defer your jury service dates. You can only defer your jury service once.

An example of a valid reason for delaying your jury service can include:

  • You already have a holiday booked
  • You are having an operation
  • Your employer cannot give you the time off work – If you are employed or under contract your employer MUST let you have time off work, but they can ask you to delay your jury service if your absence could have a serious impact on the business.

You can find out more about time away from work here.

 

There are some reasonable grounds to be excused from jury service altogether, including:

  • It infringes on your responsibilities as a carer
  • It would be detrimental to services provided in the armed forces
  • You are unable to speak and/or understand English.

Click here for more information on deferment and excusal.

 

When you receive your summons for jury service you MUST return it within 7 days. You can be fined up to £1,000 if you do not return the form1 or if you do not show up for jury service.

Your jury service will usually be as close as possible to where you live.

 

Freelancers, contractors and the self-employed and jury service

For many, the thought of jury service is appealing, some even view it as an honour to take part.

To others, being called up for jury service can be viewed as a hindrance on their personal and professional lives. This is especially true of self-employed professionals.

The length of time away from their businesses, combined with the lack of access to a mobile phone or laptop throughout the day, can have a significant impact on their way of life and how their business is run.

What if I’m self-employed?

The first question that immediately springs to mind for the self-employed is – who is going to do the work while I’m on jury service?

If you work on your own as a freelancer, it is good practice to contact your clients and inform them of the situation so they can expect a delay in the delivery of their project.

If you own a small business with a couple of employees, you may be able to assign certain tasks to your staff while you are absent, then pick up the rest of the workload in the evenings or at weekends. You could also hire temporary staff to help during your absence.

Another question is that of remuneration whilst on jury service.

Contractors rely on their daily/hourly rate of pay, so having to take time away from their contract to attend jury service can result in a significant shortfall in revenue.

As an employee, your employer is not obliged to subsidise your time away from work for jury service, but you may be given the choice to take the time as paid holiday.

If you are a freelance limited company professional you will not have the paid holiday option available to you, but you can claim some expenses, as follows:

What expenses can I claim?

There is a limit to how much you can claim per day. Jury service expenses you can usually claim the following back:

  • Travel and parking costs
  • Food and drink
  • A contribution to loss of earnings and other expenses

Note: Financial support and benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, are unaffected for the first 8 weeks you are on jury service.

 

Below is a complete table of the expenses you can claim:

Travel and parking costs2

How you travel to court

The court will pay

Bus or underground

Cost of the ticket

Train

Cost of the ticket (standard class   return fare)

Bicycle

9.6p per mile

Motorcyle

31.4p per mile

Car

31.4p per mile – ask the court for   permission if you need to pay for parking

Car – for one other juror as a   passenger

4.2p per mile

Car – for each additional passenger

3.2p per mile

Taxi

The fare – ask the court for   permission before using a taxi

Figures correct at 13.05.2021

 

Food and drink2

Length of time each   day you’re away from home or work The court will pay   up to
Up   to and including 10 hours a day £5.71   per day
Over   10 hours a day £12.17   per day

Figures correct at 13.05.2021

 

Loss of earnings and other expenses2

This includes the cost of employing a child-minder or carer, if outside your usual care arrangements.

Length of jury service

Time spent each day

Maximum daily amount you can claim

First 10 days

4 hours or under

£32.47

First 10 days

Over 4 hours

£64.95

From Day 11 onwards

4 hours or under

£64.95

From Day 11 onwards

Over 4 hours

£129.91

Figures correct at 13.05.2021

 

Accommodation – The court will arrange accommodation if you are asked to stay overnight.

As can be seen from the ‘loss of earning and other expenses’ table above, for a contractor or freelancer expenses totalling £64.95 per day would be very low when compared with their usual day rate.

This would mean that attending jury service would cause a significant loss of earnings and potential financial problems as a result. Couple this with the fact that before any expenses are paid out, the individual is required to provide evidence of the loss of earnings, which can delay the reimbursement process.

 

There is an insurance solution that will help bridge the gap

One of the benefits of our Legal Expenses Insurance policy is that it will cover you in the event of being called up for jury service.

The policy will cover the insured person’s net salary or wages for the time they are absent from work, less the amount the court or tribunal have paid them, or less the amount their employer has paid them.

This inexpensive policy can be purchased quickly and easily online at https://www.markeluk.com and provides a breadth of value not offered by many other insurance policies, including full access to the Markel Law Hub.

 

Introducing the Markel Law Hub

The Markel Law Hub is an online resource containing a range of documents and articles to help you manage the various laws you can encounter when running a business.

The Law Hub currently helps over 50,000 users and contains:

  • 800+ legal resources including contracts, policies, forms, and letter templates from Markel’s expert solicitors3
  • Legal updates, templates, guidance documents, checklists, and useful links to help you to successfully manage your business.
  • 460+ straight-forward guides3
  • 350+ links to key resources3
  • Up-to-date information on new legislation and case-law.
  • Live Chat available Monday to Friday 09:00 – 17:00
  • Legal helpline.

 

There are two ways you can access the Markel Law Hub.

1. Simply purchase a Legal Expenses Insurance policy from us, it only takes a few minutes via our online and buy system.

2. If you do not require Legal Expenses Insurance but feel that you would benefit from access to the Law Hub, you can purchase an annual subscription for only £189.00 +VAT.

Click to the Markel Law Hub here for details.

 

 

Sources:

  1. www.gov.uk/jury-service/respond-to-the-summons
  2. www.gov.uk/jury-service/what-can-you-expect-claim-if-youre-self-employed
  3. www.markellaw.co.uk/lawhub/

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