The Ministry of Justice wants businesses to encourage their workers to take up magistrates roles.
It says research shows that staff who volunteer as magistrates can be ‘good for business’, as it seeks to recruit 4,000 new magistrates in England and Wales.
The Ministry’s own research has found that the top qualities HR and business leaders see in people can be cultivated after they are trained as magistrates. This includes sound judgement (89% of businesses wanted this quality) and effective decision-making (which was valued by 81% of businesses).
Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab, called on businesses to exercise their own civic duty: “We are calling on employers to back this recruitment drive for more magistrates – it’s good for your people, your organisation and your community. Your support will help enable magistrates to play an even greater role in serving swift justice for our society. ”
The Ministry says the skills employees will learn will be transferable and useful for their main jobs. This includes critical analysis, complex problem solving, mediation, influencing and decision making.
It research shows that employers agreed the potential business benefits of having employees as magistrates include the ability for organisations to show a commitment to local communities (43%) and demonstrate their social conscience (41%). Encouraging employees to volunteer as magistrates is an effective way for employers to give back to society.
Mr Raab said becoming a magistrate might incentivise employees to stay with their company, as they would feel more job satisfaction. He added: “Encouraging your employees to fulfil the vital voluntary role of a magistrate is not only a powerful way to show your commitment to them and your local community but it makes good business sense.”
Supporting volunteers and demonstrating social responsibility is particularly crucial for employers in the current battle to attract and retain talent, with evidence suggesting people are more likely to want to work for organisations that give back. IBM’s Institute for Business
Value research from 14,000 people across nine countries, including the UK, found more than two-thirds of the workforce are more likely to apply for, and accept, jobs with socially responsible organisations.
There are a number of companies already encouraging their workers to become magistrates – for example M & S. Sarah Findlater, Director of HR, M&S said: “At M&S, we take pride in supporting the communities we serve. Encouraging our employees to become magistrates means they gain insight into local community issues and valuable new skills to boost their career with us. We would encourage all employers to provide time for people to act as magistrates as it gives back to society, supports colleague development and is good for business.”
Misconceptions about time commitments
The Ministry said it wishes to remove the misconceptions about the role. Its research found that more than half of people wrongly believe magistrates are required in court more than 13 days a year (56%).
In reality, the time commitment is limited and many magistrates fulfil this crucial role alongside full-time employment and caring responsibilities. Volunteering as a magistrate is also something open to most of the workforce. All magistrates are given robust training and an experienced mentor in their first year to develop their skills and legal knowledge.
No specific qualifications are required and people from all walks of life are encouraged to apply – from plumbers to project managers, and chefs to computer programmers. Employers in all sectors are therefore being encouraged to support the largest campaign in the 650-year history of the magistracy.
A magistrate’s role is voluntary with individuals expected to dedicate a minimum of 13 days a year service. Employers need to allow time off work for this type of public service volunteering. It is at the employer’s discretion whether this is paid or unpaid leave, but many employers support their employees by granting paid leave for at least some of a magistrate’s sitting days.