INDEPENDENT NEWS

Employers Must Not Be Forced To Pay For Jury Duty

Published: Thu 3 May 2001 04:12 PM
ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks says it is outrageous a District Court Judge has effectively told employers that they must pay employees for taking time off to do jury duty.
“The Government must act now to ensure that the action by Whangarei Judge Arthur Tompkins does not stand as a binding precedent.
“Many employers do of course pay their staff for doing jury duty – but to say they must pay is quite wrong.
“Jury time is a service every eligible adult citizen gives to their fellow New Zealanders. It is an honour, a privilege and a duty. The Judge’s stance would turn it into effectively just a random and unequal tax contribution from employers.
“Worse still the Judge’s decision shows how little the employment law cares about the real world. Jury trials can run for months. A case in Victoria with which I had a connection, went for so long that a juror conceived and had a baby while the trial ran.
“Think what this Judge’s decision could mean to any of the thousands of small businesses, employing two or three people. Would he take responsibility for the creditors and other employees if a small business goes broke because it has to pay an absent employee plus a replacement for what could be months on end?
“This situation should be addressed immediately and the true basis of jury service preserved,” Mr Franks said.
ENDS

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