Business Halacha: Payment of Wages


check-payment-moneyQ: What are the mitzvos and prohibitions related to payment of wages?

A: Payment of wages is no less a mitzvah than payment of any other monetary obligation. Therefore, withholding due wages from a worker or employee is tantamount to stealing from him. (C.M. 339:1-2 and SM”A 339:4)

In addition, there are specific prohibitions that relate to withholding wages: “Lo sa’ashok es rei’acha ­– You shall not cheat [i.e., withhold wages from] your fellow.” (Vayikra 19:13) If the employee is poor there is an additional prohibition, “Lo sa’ashok sachir ani v’evyon– You shall not cheat a hired person who is poor or destitute.” (Devarim 24:14)

Furthermore, the prohibition does not relate only to withholding wages entirely. There is a mitzvah to pay wages in a timely manner and prohibitions against delaying payment: “B’yomo siten scharo, v’lo savo alav hashemesh On that day you shall pay his hire; the sun shall not set upon it” (Devarim 24:15); “Lo salin pe’ulas sachir itecha ad boker – A worker’s wage should not remain with you overnight.” (Vayikra 19:13)

These many verses underscore the importance that the Torah attributes to proper payment of wages. We will discuss the laws of paying wages in the coming weeks, IY”H.

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. #3 – Good question – but the schools need to have some sort of realistic operating system. A business that has absolutely no money is forced to close. By propping up mosdos that have no ‘shaychiss’ to making it – we are doning no one a service. Look at what has happenned in Lakewood this past year – or in Deal the year before (the boys school was closed due to financial issues five monthes before the ‘other’ issue came into play).

    Having so many schools catering to small niches is great – if we have a way (perhaps as a donor’s pet project) to finance it – but once we put the employees and their families (and the students) at risk.

  2. To #3.
    Would they ever consider serving tarfus because they have no money?
    Why pick and choose what mitzvos to keep and which ones to trample on?
    Especially in regards to chinuch of the next “dor”.

  3. I have a brother who is a doctor and he tells me plenty of people withhold money from him for no reason. This is an important article. People should know that people like my brother cannot feed their families because of this sort of shtick.

  4. To #1 & 2:

    Because parents decide that Pesach vacation in Arizona is more important than tuition.

    I have no problem with people who B”H have the finiancial resources to do so spend their money – do whatever you want with it. It’s yours, and you earned it. But when it comes at the expense of your children’s Rebbeim, something is wrong.

  5. #8, that may be why teh schools don’t have money, but it doesn’t explain why the schools feel it’s ok to pay everyone late. R’ Yaakov Bender has spoken publicly many times about how wrong it is, and how yeshivos who don’t pay on time are doing something terrible.

  6. Being that this is a halachic question it requires a halachic response

    1. If one does not have the money to pay, one does not violate the halacha of paying on time. (it is however incorrect to enter into a employment arrangement if at the time of hire one has no realistic plan for payment.)

    2. What constitutes having money to pay (i.e. prioritizing expenditures) is a involved question that needs to be studied properly