Right to Time Off for Public Duties

Site updated on February 17, 2020

The Employment Rights Act contains a provision for you to take reasonable time off work to carry out what are termed “public duties”. You do need to be an employee, so Agency staff and self-employed do not qualify, nor do Police officers or Armed Forces personnel – but there is nothing to stop these organisations agreeing a request.

There is no right for this to be paid, but again some Employers may have a policy on this.

Qualifying “public duties” include:

Justice of the Peace
Member of a local authority or National Parks.
Member of a statutory Tribunal or a regional Health Authority.
Member of the Managerial Governing Body of a state school or higher education corporation.
Member of the National Rivers Authority and the Environment Agency.
Member of the Board of Prison Visitors.
Member of a Police Authority.
Pension Scheme Trustees.
Acting as a Juror (Compensation is available form the Court service).

If you are not sure whether a public duty is covered by these rules, contact us for advice.

Remember, you do not have the right to be paid for this time off. The amount of time granted (and whether this is paid or not) will depend largely on the employers circumstances, check you terms and conditions or handbook

. Employers must always act reasonably when deciding how much time off to allow. You should not be required to make the time up – for example by working through lunch breaks.

Time off for jury service is rather different. If an employer refuses to provide reasonable time of for jury service, they may be in Contempt of Court. Jurors are able to claim for any loss of earnings where the employer does not pay normal salary.

If you are denied the right to time off, you can make a complaint to Tribunal. If you wish to get further advice, Contact our Advice Line.

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