Business Halacha: My Business Is Low On Cash


moneyQ: My business is low on cash. Can I offer my workers a “bonus” or “compensation” if they agree to delay payment of wages for a month?

A: Once wages are due, it is prohibited to offer the workers an additional amount for delay of payment. This is because awaiting payment of the owed wages is considered a “loan” to the employer and the “bonus” is considered ribbis on this loan. (Y.D. 173:12)

Therefore, the contract cannot stipulate additional, increasing charges for delayed payment. [A one-time, fixed penalty for not paying promptly is permitted, though. (Y.D. 177:18)] Even if the employer withheld the wages without consent, the worker is not entitled to receive interest on the delayed wages according to most authorities. (Shach 176:8; see also Bris Yehuda 2:17)

However, after the salary is paid, some authorities permit distributing a small bonus if it is not linked to the delay in salary. For example, the employer may distribute a holiday bonus or issue a subsequent paycheck ahead of schedule. (See Shach Y.D. 160:10; The Laws of Ribbis 10:13)

If the wages are not due yet, it is permissible to extend the job and pay a higher amount at the end. For example, if a person hired a painter and wants to delay payment, he can suggest – before the work is finished – to also paint the pantry later and add for the delay till then. This is permitted because the homeowner has no obligation to pay until the job is finished, so that awaiting payment until then is not considered a “loan” to him. (Y.D. 173:12)

Authored by Rabbi Meir Orlian

These articles are for learning purposes only and cannot be used for final halachic decision. The Business Halacha email is a project of Business Halacha Institute ( and is under the auspices of Rav Chaim Kohn.

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  1. There are various halachic leniencies here, it seems, but there is a major problem with dina d’malchusa dina. The law of the land usually states that workers must be paid on time. You had better consult a lawyer who is an expert in labor law in your state/locality before you do thins.

    And how are your workers going to feed their children? Go to g’machs? Why don’t YOU go to the g’mach yourself so your workers don’t have to?

    And be warned – you are going to make your workers unhappy, make them stop trusting you, and otherwise impact your long-term profitability by this short-term “fix.” Better borrow the money yourself and pay your workers on time.

  2. You are correct that one must be careful to pay wages timely and is not allowed to withhold wages (“bal talin”). This article deals with the ribbis aspect if they would agree to delay and recieve a bonus.