"The benefits of magistrates are not only to society, through directly supporting the delivery of justice, they are to employers themselves in the form of the training and experience magistrates receive in skills such as decision making, teamwork, and leadership – skills that are a valuable asset in any working environment."The Rt Hon. The Lord Falconer of Thoroton QC PC
Former Lord Chancellor
Information for employers
The magistrates’ courts service depends on local people to sit as Justices of the Peace. It is considered to be important for business to be seen to take part in its local community.
Court business takes place during working hours so there is a need to ask for employers, to give employee(s) time from work to fulfil this valuable task. There can be significant benefits to both employer and to employee. Whilst the business expresses its culture of service in the community, the magistrate employee will have new learning opportunities and a focus beyond work, through which to gain transferable skills to bring back into the workplace.
Time off work
Magistrates are required to sit a minimum of 26 half days a year. In practice, most magistrates are in court for the equivalent of 18 days per year. Many supportive employers allow magistrates leave for these public duties in addition to their normal holiday entitlement.
The training commitment for magistrates is most demanding in the first year but after this it takes up no more than 1-2 days a year. Depending on the area, training takes place either in office hours or at evenings/weekends.
Magistrates receive no reward for their public duty although travelling and subsistence allowances are claimable. Many businesses give leave for court duties without loss of pay: however, where this is not possible, a basic loss of earnings allowance may be available.
Employment Rights Act 1996
“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 which an employee is to be permitted to take under this section and the occasions on which and any conditions subject to which time off may be so taken, are those that are reasonable in all the circumstances having regard in particular 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.”