Entitlement to Leave of Absence for Jury Duty

B-201590: Apr 22, 1981

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GAO was asked by an employee's union to determine the propriety of the Air Force's action in charging a civilian employee 3 hours of annual leave because she did not report to work prior to reporting for jury duty on the first day of her term of jury service. The record showed that, in the past, this procedure has not been consistently applied at the base where the employee was employed. Some supervisors have required employees to report to work prior to jury duty and some have not. In its request, the union stated that, according to instructions in the Federal Personnel Manual, employees on jury duty are assigned to the court and are to be given court leave for all hours until they are released by the court. The union thus felt that it was unreasonable to expect employees to report to work for a very brief period and then report to the court. GAO has held that an employee properly summoned by a State or Federal court to serve on a jury is under the jurisdiction and control of the court for the term of jury service. Further, the term of jury service runs from the date stated in the summons on which the employee is required to report to the court until the employee is discharged by the court. However, the employing agency has the authority to require an employee to return to duty during periods that he is excused from jury duty. The decision of whether to require an employee to report to work during the term of jury service is a matter of administrative discretion to be exercised in a reasonable fashion. Thus, if it appears that an employee is or may be required to perform jury duty for a substantial part of the day, on the first day of duty or on any day thereafter, then the employee should not be required to report to work that same day. However, when it is apparent that the employee will be required to perform jury duty for less than a substantial part of the day and when it is reasonable to do so, the employee may be required to report for work prior to reporting for jury duty. In the instant case, the information furnished was not sufficient to determine whether the Air Force exercised its discretion reasonably in charging the employee 3 hours of annual leave on her first day of jury duty. However, GAO stated that, if it was anticipated that the employee would perform jury duty for a substantial part of the day on which she was summoned, her absence from work for 3 hours should not have been charged to annual leave.

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