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C2. Paying a Hired Poor Man His Wages on the Day He Labors or When Due.    [Make a Comment]

We are to pay an employee his wages on the same day that he labors or when contractually due.

This precept is derived from His Word (blessed is He):

Key Scriptures

Leviticus 19:13 (Maimonides RN238; Meir MN38; Chinuch C230)
Do not oppress or rob your neighbor; specifically, you are not to keep back the wages of a hired worker all night until morning.

Deuteronomy 24:14-15 (Maimonides RP200; Meir MP66; Chinuch C588)
You are not to exploit a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether one of your brothers or a foreigner living in your land in your town. You are to pay him his wages the day he earns them, before sunset; for he is poor and looks forward to being paid. Otherwise he will cry out against you to ADONAI, and it will be your sin.

Matthew 10:10b
... for a worker is worthy of his food.


The essence of this Mitzvah is that we must not oppress an employee by withholding or delaying payment of his wages. There are many kinds of employees today in many occupations. Some are day laborers and some are poor and some are not. It is customary to pay a hired man or employee at the end of a specified period of time that may be daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or at the conclusion of a contract, so this Mitzvah should not be interpreted to require that all workers be paid daily. That having been said, Deuteronomy 24:14-15 requires that an employer pay a hired man daily if the man's impoverished condition makes it reasonable and compassionate to do so.

The inference of Deuteronomy 14 is that not paying wages to a poor worker in a timely manner is akin to exploiting him, and there are undoubtedly unscrupulous employers who would withhold or delay the payment of wages to a poor worker in order to pressure the worker into giving the employer some kind of advantage. This Mitzvah can, therefore, be construed to have a broader meaning, which is to not exploit an employee's weakness to gain advantage.

Classical Commentators

Maimonides, Meir, and HaChinuch advocate literal compliance with the referenced Scriptures.


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