Business Halacha: Payment of Wages


appliancesQ: I asked an appliance repairman down the block to check my faulty refrigerator. He immediately ascertained that the outlet was defective and simply plugged the fridge into another outlet. He left a bill for $50, explaining that his standard rate is $50 for the initial visit. Must I pay the full amount of this bill, since he really did nothing?

A: You are required to pay this bill fully. By withholding payment of this bill you would be stealing from him, neglecting the mitzvah of paying wages, and violating the additional prohibitions mentioned last week. (SM”A 339:4)

Although the repairman did not explicitly mention that he was going to charge you, if you asked him to come in a professional capacity he is entitled to charge payment. Only if there was a clear understanding or indication that he was coming as a neighborly favor is he unable to charge. (See Rama C.M. 246:17)

It is always advisable to agree ahead of time with a worker what the charge will be, to avoid misunderstandings later. (Ahavas Chesed, end of Part I) If it is customary for the laborer to have a clear price scale, you are obligated to that amount even if you didn’t bother to verify it beforehand. This is because whoever hires a worker does so according to the accepted practice. (C.M. 331:1-2)


 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. I went to my mechanic to fix my car.All he did was tighten a nut. he charged me $60.05. I asked,how come $60 dollars,and whats this 5 cents? He said the 5 cents was to turn the nut.The $60 dollars was to know which nut to turn.

  2. The old joke goes: The repairman tapped the machine twice with a hammer and fixed the problem. He then sent a bill for $100. The owner said, “$100 for two taps with a hammer? that can’t be right! send me an itemized bill!”

    The repairman returned the itemized bill as follows:

    Tap with hammer @ $1.00/tap – $2.00
    Knowing where to tap. – $98.00

  3. He also took time to travel back and forth to your home. Next time – you can bring the refrigerator to him – perhaps he will charge you less.

  4. Your all wrong we did loose a sense of doing someone a favor for nothing in return in my business I do it all day as an op…

  5. #5. It did not appear that the repair man was asked a favor as a friend or aquaintance. It seems from the original query that the guy was engaging the repairman in a professional capacity. His complaint was paying $50 for just plugging it into another recepticle.