A self-employed hairdresser who was ‘forced’ to take two weeks off work when she did jury service says she only received £49 a day in payments to make up her income.
Karen Billington received her first letter from Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service last year, informing her that she had been randomly selected to take part in jury service. The 39-year-old, who lives in Helmshore, decided to defer her duty to her because of her work.
However, at the end of last year Karen received another letter, telling her that her deferred jury service was due to start on January 17 and last two weeks. Out of the 10 days she was required to attend Preston Crown Court the jury sat for just three days but because of the nature of Karen’s work she was unable to book any work in for the days evidence was n’t heard.
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“It was an absolute joke,” Karen told LancsLive. “I did three days out of 10 and they weren’t proper days because a lot of it was just sitting around to then get sent home.”
Because Karen, who runs the Reflektion salon in Albion Street, Blackburn, was led to believe she would be in court for the full two weeks she was unable to allow any customers to book appointments. Self-employed jurors are able to claim £64.95 a day to cover loss of income, with expenses and petrol costs on top, and in total Karen received £490.
This means that, on average across 10 days, Karen was paid £49 a day which is far less than what she would have earned had she been working. She also feared losing regular customers who were unable to make appointments.
She added: “I didn’t get paid for the days I didn’t go in. It was a complete waste of time. I lost so much money – two weeks for nothing.
“Self-employed people shouldn’t be made to do it as you don’t get the money you would be paid for working. It’s really sad as you’re forced to do it and that shouldn’t be the case unless you get enough to cover your potential earnings, I was so mad.”
For each day in court, jurors can usually claim up to £64.95 to help cover loss of earnings and the cost of any care or childcare outside of their usual arrangements. If a juror feels that their financial circumstances would prevent them from attending, they may request to be excused, with each case considered on a case-by-case basis.
To be eligible for jury service, with jurors chosen at random from the electoral register, individuals must be aged between 18 and 75, registered to vote in the UK and must have lived in the UK for at least five years after their 13th birthday.
People are not qualified to be jurors if they are on bail, they have been to prison or subject to a community order within the last 10 years, they have ever been given a prison sentence of five years or longer, they are in hospital or under an order for mental health treatment or if they do not have mental capacity.
A spokesperson for Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service said: “Jury service is one of the most important civic duties that anyone can be asked to perform, and for most people it is an interesting and rewarding experience.
“Jurors can ask to be excused if they feel their financial circumstances prevent them from attending. Each request will be carefully considered.”