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Time off

Employees have the right to reasonable time off to carry out certain public duties.

Key points

  • Employees must be allowed time off for jury service.
  • Employees can take reasonable time off for a number of public duties.
  • Employers can choose to pay for time off, but they don't have to.

Time off for public duties

An employee is entitled to a reasonable amount of time off if they are a:

  • magistrate (or justice of the peace)
  • local councillor
  • school governor
  • member of any statutory tribunal (for example employment tribunal)
  • member of the managing or governing body of an educational establishment
  • member of a health authority
  • member of a school council or board in Scotland
  • member of the General Teaching Councils for England and Wales
  • member of the Environment Agency or the Scottish Environment Protection agency
  • member of the prison independent monitoring boards (England or Wales) or a member of the prison visiting committees (Scotland)
  • member of Scottish Water or a Water Customer Consultation Panel
  • trade union member (for trade union duties).

Reasonable time off

Qualifying employees will be allowed reasonable time off to go to meetings, or carry out duties. The amount of time off must be agreed with employers before taking any time off. Employers will be allowed to refuse time off if it us unreasonable, however, the law does not specify a set amount of time.

What may be classed as reasonable will depend on:

  • what duties are carried out
  • the time that is needed to carry out the duties
  • the impact on the business
  • how much time the employee has already taken for public duties.

Who doesn't qualify for time off

  • Agency workers.
  • Members of the police service or armed forces.
  • Merchant seaman.
  • Civil servants, if their public duties are connected to political activities (restricted under their terms of employment).
  • Those employed on a fishing vessel, gas or oil rig at sea.

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