Hi everyone, I’m Nadia Zaman, associate at Rudner Law, and today I will talk about jury duty and what employers and employees should know about it.

You may be aware that as a Canadian citizen, you’re expected to serve jury duty when summoned by your jurisdiction’s courthouse. If you’re an employer, some your workers may be absent for that reason. There is sometimes confusion about jury duty: will the leave be paid, or unpaid? Does the employee need to seek permission to be away from work? I will provide some clarification through this vlog, including paid leave for jury duty and the requirement of a permitted leave of absence for employers.

Under the Ontario Juries Act, a Canadian citizen or resident of Ontario for the past year that is at least 18 years of age is eligible and liable to serve as a juror in the county court where the individual resides. That said, there are exceptions to this requirement, and some individuals are ineligible to serve on a jury. For example, individuals that are members of certain political offices, individuals in the legal profession, law enforcement, and some individuals in the medical professions. In addition, if you have participated in jury duty in the three years immediately preceding a new summons, you are ineligible to serve jury duty again.

If you are summoned for jury duty, you will receive a notice in the mail, setting out the dates and times when you are expected to report to the courthouse. Please keep in mind that the case at hand may take longer than anticipated and you may be looking at a lengthy service of jury duty. One of the questions we often get is whether employees are entitled to a paid leave for jury duty. Generally speaking, if you have been summoned for jury duty, you will have to report, on a weekday, during normal courthouse hours. However, this may conflict with your work schedule. As such, there’s a common myth out there that employers are obligated to provide their employees a paid leave to serve on the jury. This is a common myth, the reality is that employers do not automatically have this obligation and employees do not automatically have this right.

There needs to be a contract or policy which entitles an employee to a paid leave for jury duty in order for the employer to be obligated to provide a paid leave. Although some courthouses may compensate jurors a nominal amount, typically time spent by jurors to serve on the jury is unpaid. That said, employees generally receive unpaid leave for jury duty. The reason for this is that jurors typically get advanced notice which allows both the employer and the employee enough time to ensure there is adequate coverage while the employee is out of the office. In addition, employers are generally not allowed to make it unreasonably burdensome for the employee to take time off. While the general rule is that if you have been summoned for jury duty you are expected to serve your jury duty, there are exceptions. If you have been summoned for jury duty, but attending would cause you hardship, you may be excused.

We strongly recommend that you contact the courthouse right away as there are special circumstances and procedures to be excused from jury duty.

At the end of the day, both employers and employees should understand the basics of jury duty requirements as they relate to time off from work. We can help employers, as well as employees, understand their rights and obligations relating to serving jury duty and time off from work, and represent them to enforce such rights.

Thank you for watching. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at nadia@rudnerlaw.ca or at 416 864 8503.

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