Q: An employee has been called to jury duty in Connecticut Superior Court. We understand our obligation to pay regular wages for up to five days, but this employee is a commissioned salesperson with a relatively low base rate of pay and the opportunity to earn significantly more based on sales. What is the "regular rate" we must pay for jury duty?
A: The statute on this is not helpful, stating only that "Each full-time employed juror shall be paid regular wages by the juror's employer for the first five days, or part thereof, of jury service."
However, A Guide to Juror Service for Employees, Employers, and the Unemployed, a brief pamphlet prepared by the Connecticut Judicial Branch and Department of Labor contains the following question: "How are jurors, whose regular wages consist of commissions, paid for jury service?"
The document provides this answer: "An average of commissions paid per day is calculated based on the previous month's earnings. The daily rate is paid to the juror by the employer for the first five days of jury service."
This is consistent with calculation of the regular rate under the Fair Labor Standards Act for determining overtime pay where the employee has commission or incentive earnings that are not easily attributable to a specific day or week of work and must instead be allocated over a longer period of time.
In that case, the allocated additional commission or incentive earnings are included in the week’s total straight time pay, thereby increasing the effective or average straight-time hourly rate, from which the overtime pay is then calculated.
This makes sense and is certainly a fair approach in recognizing and rewarding those called upon to fulfill the very important civic obligation of jury service: judging one's fellow citizens.