Q: 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 (www.businesshalacha.com) and is under the auspices of Rav Chaim Kohn.