Jury service extended to over 70s: key info for all ages on pay, expenses & pensions
In the first change of its kind in almost 30 years to “better reflect the healthy life expectancy” of the population in England and Wales, from today, the upper age limit for jurors will rise from 70 to 75.
Each year, around 178,000 people aged 18-70 in England and Wales undertake jury service, out of a total jury ‘pool’ of around 31 million.
But following the age threshold increase, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) says a further three million people aged 70 to 75 will be added to the juror pool and it estimates that up to 6,000 of these will complete jury service.
With so many people eligible to sit on a jury trial, below, we explain the key details about the process, what it means for your income, what you may be entitled to, what happens with childcare vouchers and pensions contributions, and your rights to delay jury service.
How are jurors picked and what does it entail?
Jurors are randomly picked from the electoral register from communities that serve each crown court. The MoJ says jury service will be as close as possible to where you live and it usually lasts up to 10 working days but can be longer. You could also sit on more than one trial during the length of service.
You’ll usually need to carry out the duty when summoned or you could face a £1,000 fine, but there is a chance to delay or to be excused. Reasons such as you’ve already booked a holiday or you’re due to have an operation or because your employer won’t give you the time off as it will seriously effect the business, may be accepted, though you’ll need to show proof.
The MoJ confirms individuals over the age of 70 will also be able to apply for an excusal “if they feel incapable of carrying out their duties”.
What happens to my pay?
You’re not paid to undertake jury service though you can claim expenses for food, drink, travel and in some cases, the court may arrange accommodation for you if you’re asked to stay overnight.
It’s up to your employer whether or not they pay you during your jury service. If you don’t get paid, you can claim for loss of earnings from the court. The amounts can be quite low as it depends on the length of jury service and the time you spend each day carrying out the civic duty. The loss of earnings amounts also apply to childcare costs, but only if it’s outside of your usual childcare arrangements.
For example, if you spend four hours or less every day for the first 10 days, you’ll get a maximum daily amount of £32.47. If it’s over four hours, this rises to £64.95 per day.
From day 11 to 200, you can claim up to £64.95 for four hours or less, while over four hours, you can claim up to £129.91 per day.
After day 201, you can get a maximum daily amount of £114.03 or £228.06, depending on how many days you need to commit to the service.
As part of your expenses, the court will pay up to £5.71 per day for food and drink, rising to £12.71 if you spend over 10 hours a day.
You can also claim for your train and bus tickets, for cycling to the court and car sharing by taking another juror to the venue.
You’ll need to claim your expenses at the end of the trial and they will usually be paid within 10 working days. If you feel you won’t be able to take part in jury service because of a loss of earnings and because you won’t receive expenses upfront, MoJ confirms that when you’re summoned, you may apply for excusal on the grounds of ‘financial hardship’.
What happens to my workplace or private pension?
Regarding pension contributions, what happens depends on whether you pay into a workplace pension via auto enrolment or a private pension.
If you pay into a private pension, you can decide to take a break for the period of jury service if for instance your employer won’t continue your usual income payments.
The MoJ says that where an employer stops contributing to a pension, the employee can claim for a loss of pension contributions – subject to the maximum daily allowance threshold as above.
It adds that the court can only pay allowances to the juror, not to any third party so if claiming for a loss of pension contributions, it will be paid to them directly and they’ll need to pay the amount back to their employer.
With a workplace pension, whether you and your employer continue to contribute will depend on your employer and the terms of the pension scheme.
If your employer continues to pay you during the length of the service, the usual deductions and contributions would be made.
TIP: If you are summoned for jury service, arrange some time to speak to your employer about pay and pension contributions and deductions.
What about my childcare vouchers?
Childcare vouchers tend to work via a salary sacrifice scheme so you receive the full value of the agreed amount without having to pay tax or national insurance contributions. Different employers may have different methods of payment, whether online or through paper vouchers and the frequency may depend too. As the scheme differs from workplace to workplace, it’s best to speak to your employer to find out what, if anything changes once you’re summoned for jury duty.