Magistrates and Employment

Will I get time off work to sit as a magistrate?

Magistrates are required to sit a minimum of 26 half days (13 full days) a year. Employers are obliged by law to allow time off work for magistrates to perform their duties (see below), but it is at their discretion whether this is paid or unpaid leave. Many supportive employers allow magistrates leave for their public duties in addition to their normal holiday entitlement.

There are many benefits to employers supporting their staff to be magistrates. In doing so they both give back to the community in a valuable way and invest in staff development. Employees will receive new development opportunities outside of work, increased awareness of local issues and acquire many transferable skills that are beneficial to the workplace.

If your employer wants to learn more about employing a magistrate and the benefits of doing so, they can find out more here.

What transferable skills will a magistrate bring to an organisation?

During their service and training, magistrates develop transferable skills in many areas essential to both personal and professional development, including but not limited to:

  • Critical analysis
  • Decision-making
  • Giving and receiving constructive feedback
  • Conflict resolution
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Time management

Some of the skills you acquire as a magistrate will depend on whether you sit in the criminal, youth or family court, for example you will be trained to communicate with young people if you are a youth magistrate. You may gain additional skills if you choose to receive special training to take on another role eg as a presiding justice or a mentor.

Will I get compensated for time off work to sit as a magistrate?

Being a magistrate is a voluntary role, but you can claim expenses.

What does the law say?

Section 50 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 states that ‘An employer shall permit an employee of his who is a justice of the peace to take time off during the employee’s working hours for the purpose of performing any of the duties of the office’.

The amount of time an employee is permitted to take and the circumstances in which this time is taken must be considered by the employer to be reasonable with regard to

  • How much time off is required for the performance of the duties of the office
  • The circumstances of the employer’s business and the effect of the employee’s absence on the running of that business

Magistrates are members of the local community appointed by the Lord Chief Justice for England and Wales. Until 2013, they were appointed by the Lord Chancellor.

No formal qualifications are required but magistrates need intelligence, common sense, integrity and the capacity to act fairly. Membership should be widely spread throughout the area covered and drawn from all walks of life. Magistrates are typically recruited by a network of 47 local advisory committees, covering relevant geographical areas. They are made up serving magistrates and local non-magistrates.

All magistrates are carefully trained before sitting and continue to receive training throughout their service.

Magistrates are unpaid volunteers but they may receive allowances to cover travelling expenses and subsistence.

If you are considering becoming a magistrate we recommend you visit the GOV.UK website which has plenty of information and an application form. It is advisable to see if the area where you would like to sit has any vacancies. You can check here.

If selected you will have to sign a Declaration and Undertaking Form. To find your local court go to the Justice Court Finder.

Hard copies and copies in Braille can be obtained from:

The Magistrates HR Team
10th Floor, Thomas More
Royal Courts of Justice
London WC2A 2LL

You can also obtain an application pack through their website www.GOV.UK.