Jury Duty and Subpoena Leave

Jury duty and subpoena leave is time off from work in order to:

  • serve on a California or Federal jury, or
  • to comply with an order of a court to appear.

As part of California's workplace leave laws, employers are required to allow you time off of work due to jury duty service or because you were subpoenaed to court as a witness. As a result of having to take time of off work, your employer cannot:

  • Fire you,
  • Demote you,
  • Threaten you,
  • Punish you, or
  • Take any action against you because of your jury duty service.

Who is Eligible for Jury Duty Leave in California?

All employees in the State of California are eligible for jury duty and subpoena leave. Employers are permitted to ask that you provide proof of your service. Employers commonly accept:

  • The original subpoena;
  • The notice of jury duty service; or
  • A note or notice provided by the court.

Payment While on Leave

California law does not require that employers pay their employees while on leave. The situation can be different based on whether the employee is a(n):

  • exempt employee, or
  • non-exempt employee

Below, our California employment and labor lawyers discuss the following frequently asked questions about jury duty service and subpoena leave for California employees:

Jury duty
Employers in California are required to allow you time off of work due to jury duty service or because you were subpoenaed to court as a witness.

1. Who is eligible for jury duty service leave and subpoena leave in California?

Every employee is the State of California can take time off from work for leave. California law protects employees from any type of adverse employment action due to leave as a result of having to appear in court. 1 An adverse employment action is some negative course of conduct taken by an employer towards an employee as a result of the service.

Employers are permitted to ask that you provide proof of your service. Employers commonly accept:

  • The original subpoena;
  • The notice of jury duty service;
  • A note or notice provided by the court.

Courts will typically provide proof of jury duty service if requested. Ask a court for the proof you need, especially if your employer specially requests proof of your service.

1.1 What types of employees are typically called to court?

For jury duty service, most employees are subject to the random call of a court to serve. Those who could be subject to a subpoena from a court commonly include:

  • Victims of a crime;
  • Witnesses to a crime;
  • Domestic violence victims;
  • A person attempting to obtain a restraining order; and
  • Persons involved in divorce proceedings.

2. Are there any requirements for the employee under the law?

Employees who are required to or desire to take leave to attend a court function, such as witness duties or jury duty, must provide their employer with "reasonable advance notice of the employee's intention to take time off, unless the advance notice is not feasible."2

Reasonable notice is not specifically defined in terms of how many days before the requested leave an employee must inform his or her employer. The best thing to do is let the employer know as soon as the employee becomes aware of the jury duty service notification or a witness subpoena.

3. What is considered an adverse employment action?

An employee is forbidden by California law to take an adverse employment action against an employee because of jury duty or subpoena leave. An adverse employment action includes:

Nearly any illegal action taken against an employee because he or she needs to be a part of a jury or has been subpoenaed as a witness in a case is protected.

4. Does an employer have to pay me because of my service or subpoena?

California law does not require that employers pay their employees during leave for jury duty or subpoena to a court proceeding. Unless there is some form of policy or contractual agreement otherwise, the employer does not have to pay for that time off, even though the employer must allow it without punishment.

4.1 How does the law affect non-exempt employees?

A non-exempt employee is an employee who is entitled to 1.5 times pay for overtime, and can be paid hourly or by salary in any field of employment. Under California law, non-exempt employees are not entitled to pay for any hours missed as a result of leave.

Certain exceptions exist to this general rule. Union employees, as part of their contract, may be entitled to compensation during leave. This is a negotiated part of the union agreement, and not a protection that all employees are granted. If you are unsure if your contract guarantees you pay during leave, you can speak to your employment law attorney for help.

4.2 How does the law affect exempt employees?

Exempt employees are those who are paid at least $455 per week and are of a certain kind of position, such as:

  • Administrative;
  • Executive; or
  • Professional.

Exempt employees receive a salary, and are not based on hourly calculations of their work. As a result, exempt employees typically continue to be compensated at their regular rate even when they are on leave.

In some situations, an employer may withhold pay for an exempt employee. This usually only occurs if the leave requires that an employee be away from work for over one week and the employee is unable to complete work duties.

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Call us for help...

For questions about California's jury duty service and subpoena leave laws, or to confidentially discuss your case with one of our skilled California employment attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us at the Shouse Law Group. Please also see our pages on voting leave laws in California and bereavement leave laws in California.

We have local law offices in and around Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Jose, Oakland, the San Francisco Bay area, and several nearby cities.


Legal References:

  1. California Legislative Information. Cal. Labor Code § 230.
  2. Cal. Labor Code § 230(d)(1).

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