A summons for jury duty is rarely cause for excitement, but it can be particularly inconvenient when your nanny gets the call. Because reporting for jury duty is mandatory and can stretch on for weeks, or even months in some cases, you may find yourself without childcare for an extended period of time. While you can’t affect the outcome of the jury selection, you should familiarize yourself with the process and take certain steps to ensure that you’re both prepared and in compliance with Federal law.
- Make Alternate Arrangements – In the event of a jury duty summons, there’s very little you can do to prevent the loss of your nanny’s services if she’s actually chosen. There is a chance that she won’t be selected, but you should make preparations for alternate child care as a precaution. Because it’s difficult or even impossible to know how long the case she’s potentially chosen for will last, contacting a nanny agency that offers temporary placement may be your best option.
- Understand Her Rights – Even if a case drags on for months, your nanny is protected under law from termination as a result of her absence due to jury duty. While you may be forced to replace her for the duration of her service, you will also be required to reinstate her position when the case has concluded.
- Make a Decision Regarding Her Salary – Government employees are awarded with paid jury duty leave, and some corporate entities have adopted a similar policy. As the private employer of a domestic worker, federal law does not require you to pay her salary while she’s unable to perform her duties, although your state law may.
- Don’t Suggest That She Attempt to “Get Out” of Jury Duty – Pressuring your nanny to resort to subterfuge or dishonesty in an attempt to persuade the court to dismiss her from service is completely unethical, so swallow any questionable advice you have for getting out of serving on a jury; the penalties for dishonest attempts to escape her civic duty could be steeper than either of you realize.
- Do Suggest That She Express Her Concerns Honestly – Explaining that she is the sole primary caregiver for your children, that she will not be paid for her time on the jury, and that she would like to request a change of date could land your nanny a temporary reprieve from serving on a jury, though she will be required to fulfill it at a later date. Should she be granted a change of date, you’ll have more time to make the necessary arrangements and hammer out an agreement regarding her salary and benefits.
- Use Her Personal Days and Sick Leave First – If your nanny contract and compensation agreement allows for paid sick leave or personal time, giving your nanny the choice to use those days first to offset the lost income from serving on a jury is both a practical and generous gesture. While she may choose to save those days for her own use later, you will have made the offer and given her the option of receiving her regular pay, at least temporarily.
Though there are dozens of factors that can keep your nanny from actually being selected after she reports for jury duty, it’s not advised to assume that she’ll be dismissed. Being caught with no back-up plan and thus no childcare will only leave you stressed out and scrambling to make last minute arrangements. Also, the laws governing your responsibilities to your nanny as her employer during her time of service may be different, depending on the state where you live. Before making decisions regarding salary, sick leave, or vacation days, be sure to double check the employment laws in your state.