If you are an Australian citizen over the age of 18, you are required to undertake jury duty if requested.
Although some people enjoy spending time in court and seeing how the legal system works, for others jury duty can be onerous, especially if you end up on a case which continues for weeks.
Jury duty can be inconvenient. It usually means taking time off work or finding childcare.
Although you will be paid a certain amount to do jury duty, and your employer is legally required to make up the difference for the first ten days if you are a permanent employee, doing jury duty for weeks can leave you out of pocket.
If you live in WA, Queensland or Victoria, you should be paid your full wage for the duration of your jury service, even if it runs on for a long time.
If you are in NSW, or any other state, unfortunately this isn’t the case.
People who end up serving on trials lasting more than a week or two in these states can find themselves facing serious financial difficulties.
What is the rate of pay for jurors in NSW?
Jurors in NSW receive a set allowance while they are on jury duty.
For the first ten days they receive $104.75 per day.
After day 11, jurors will receive $235.65 per day which amounts to $1178.25 a week if they are employed.
This can amount to an increase over their usual income if they usually earn less. Jurors who are unemployed remain on $104.75 per day.
Pay that you receive for doing jury duty is considered taxable income and must be declared. You will also receive a travel allowance of 30 cents for every kilometre you have to travel to the courthouse.
How does the NSW rate of pay for jury duty compare?
Rates of pay are higher in NSW than any other state for jury service but with no requirement for employers to make up the difference, jurors can end up coming out disadvantaged, especially if they are employed on a casual basis.
In South Australia, jurors are paid $20 a day unless they can demonstrate lost wages. In Queensland, jurors receive a maximum of $150.75 per day for cases that go on over 20 days.
Some states also provide a meal allowance for jurors who have to be at the courthouse for lunch.
In other states, the pay for jury service may be less, but there are laws in place which require employers to make up the difference for the duration of the case.
In some states even casual employees are entitled to receive a wage from their employer for doing jury duty.
Do I have to do jury service if it’s going to cause me financial difficulties?
Jury duty can be particularly financially difficult for those who are self-employed, like contractors or sole traders.
If this situation applies to you, you can request to be excused from serving on a jury.
It is possible to be excused from jury service if there are special circumstances which would prevent you serving.
The exact grounds which you can be excused on vary between states, but generally you can be excused if you have school-aged children, if you are pregnant, work in an emergency services occupation or have a medical condition.
Other reasons you can be excused include being out of the state at the time of the case, any prior conflict of interest, or a disability or mental condition prevents you from serving.