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Reader response - Tough ask when duty calls

I READ with interest your comments on jury duty (WA Business News, November 8). The comments contained in the article were particularly for me, as joint owner of a small business (25 workers). Recently we had the fortune, or misfortune, of having two people called for jury duty at the same time; one was the general manager and the other was one of our employees. Being the good citizens we are, we support the concept and commitment to jury duty. The general manager’s case, which was expected to run for three days, took two weeks. The worker was selected on a nine-week trial. We were faced with the following dilemma for our employee. Given the current employment climate, it was going to be impossible to replace him. If we took up the option of having the Justice Department pay our worker directly, he would not be accruing any leave entitlements, which is hardly fair for our employee. If we continued to pay him directly and recoup the costs from the Justice Department, we would be considerably out of pocket for the following reasons: the department only pays gross wages, ie weekly wage and superannuation; and no reimbursement is given for on-costs such as, payroll tax, workers’ compensation, insurance, and leave entitlements. I understand, therefore, why some businesses are encouraging employees to avoid jury duty. In this employment climate, it was not possible to replace our worker, as he was a senior and highly experienced employee. Robin Burkitt-Miller – Director, Aussie Crates.

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