On what grounds might an employee's application for excusal from, or deferral of, jury service be granted?
Under ss.9 and 9A of the Juries Act 1974, excusal from, or deferral of, jury service can be granted if an employee can demonstrate that there is "good reason" for their jury service to be deferred, or that they should be excused from undertaking it.
Statutory guidance issued by HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) sets out some principles for summoning officers to follow when deciding when to grant deferral or excusal. The guidance provides for excusal to be granted "for valid business reasons" if the employee can show that their absence would cause "unusual hardship". Where jury service would conflict with work commitments, the guidance states that service should be deferred in the first instance, unless excusal is clearly necessary. For example, excusal may be granted in the case of a small business where there may be few or no other staff to cover the employee's absence, but deferral may be more appropriate where the employee has particular expertise that is needed to complete a time-critical project.
The guidance states that applications for excusal from shift and night workers should be dealt with sympathetically, and that a shift worker's service should be deferred to a period when the employee does not have to attend jury service on a rest day.
The employee will be excused from service if they have already carried out jury service in the previous two years. An application for excusal is likely to be granted if the employee has insufficient understanding of English to carry out jury service. An application for excusal may also be granted on the grounds that the employee has an illness or physical disability that would make jury service difficult to undertake.
Deferral, rather than excusal, is likely to be granted if the employee has a pre-booked holiday.