1

It is a positive commandment to pay a worker his wage on time, as Deuteronomy 24:15 states: "On the day it is due, pay him his wage." If an employer delays payment, he violates a negative commandment, as that verse continues: "Do not let the sun set without him receiving it." Lashes are not given for the violation of this prohibition, for he is liable to pay.

This principle applies to the wage of a person or the fee for hiring an animal or a utensil. In all these instances, one is obligated to make payment when due, and if one delays payment, one violates a negative commandment.

The obligation to pay a wage when due applies to a resident alien, but one does not transgress a negative commandment if one delays paying him.

א

מצות עשה ליתן שכר השכיר בזמנו שנאמר ביומו תתן שכרו וגו' ואם איחרו לאחר זמנו עובר בל"ת שנאמר ולא תבוא עליו השמש ואין לוקין עליו שהרי הוא חייב לשלם אחד שכר האדם ואחד שכר הבהמה ואחד שכר הכלים חייב ליתן בזמנו ואם איחר לאחר זמן עובר בל"ת וגר תושב יש בו משום ביומו תתן שכרו ואם איחרו אינו עובר בל"ת:

2

Whenever a person withholds the payment of a worker's wage, it is as if he takes his soul from him, as Deuteronomy 24:16 continues: "Because of it, he puts his life in his hand." He violates four admonitions and a positive commandment: He transgresses the commandments not to oppress a colleague, not to steal, not to hold overnight the wage of a worker and not to allow the sun to set before having paid him, and the positive commandment to pay him on time.

When are a worker's wages due? A person who is hired to work during the day should collect his wages at any time throughout the following night. With regard to him, Leviticus 19:13 states: "Do not hold the wage of a worker in your possession overnight until the morning."

A person who is hired to work during the night should collect his wages at any time throughout the following day. Concerning him, it is written: "On the day it is due, pay him his wage."

A person who is hired to work several hours during the day should collect his wage during the remainder of the day. A person who is hired to work several hours during the night, should collect his wage during the remainder of the night.

The following principles apply with regard to a person hired for a week, for a month, for a year or for a seven-year period. If he leaves his work during the day, he should collect his wage during the remainder of the day. If he leaves his work during the night, he should collect his wage during the remainder of the night.

ב

כל הכובש שכר שכיר כאילו נטל נפשו ממנו שנאמר ואליו הוא נושא את נפשו ועובר בארבע אזהרות ועשה עובר משום בל תעשוק ומשום בל תגזול ומשום לא תלין פעולת שכיר ומשום לא תבא עליו השמש ומשום ביומו תתן שכרו אי זהו זמנו שכיר יום גובה כל הלילה ועליו נאמר לא תלין פעולת שכיר אתך עד בקר ושכיר לילה גובה כל היום ועליו נאמר ביומו תתן שכרו ושכיר שעות של יום גובה כל היום ושכיר שעות של לילה גובה כל הלילה שכיר שבת שכיר חדש שכיר שנה שכיר שבוע יצא ביום גובה כל היום יצא בלילה גובה כל (אותו) הלילה:

3

If a person gives his garment to a tailor, and the tailor completes it and notifies him, the owner does not transgress this commandment as long as the garment is in the possession of the tailor. This applies even if he delays paying him for ten days.

If the tailor returned it in the middle of the day, once the sun sets, the employer transgresses the commandment for holding the worker's wage past its due date. For contracting work is governed by the same laws as hired labor, and the craftsman must be paid when his wage is

ג

נתן טליתו לאומן וגמרה והודיעו אפילו איחרו עשרה ימים כל זמן שהכלי ביד האומן אינו עובר נתנה בחצי היום כיון ששקעה עליו חמה עובר משום בל תלין שהקבלנות כשכירות היא וחייב ליתן לו בזמנו:

4

The following rules apply when a person tells his agent: "Go out and hire workers for me," and the agent tells them: "The employer is responsible for your wages." They both do not transgress the prohibition against delaying payment of the worker's wages. The owner is not culpable, because he did not hire them, and the agent is not culpable, because he does not benefit from the workers' activity. If, however, the agent did not tell them: "The employer is responsible for your wages," the agent is considered to be transgressing the prohibition.

The employer does not transgress this prohibition unless the worker demanded payment and he did not give it to him. If, however, the worker did not demand payment or he demanded payment and the employer did not have the money to pay him, or he directed the worker to another person who accepted the responsibility of paying him, the employer is not culpable.

ד

האומר לשלוחו צא ושכור לי פועלים אמר להם שכרכם על בעה"ב שניהם אינן עוברין משום בל תלין זה לפי שלא שכרן וזה לפי שאין פעולתן אצלו ואם לא אמר להם שכרכם על בעל הבית השליח עובר אין השוכר עובר אלא בזמן שתבעו השכיר ולא נתן לו אבל אם לא תבעו או שתבעו ולא היה לו מה יתן לו או שהמחהו אצל אחר וקבל ה"ז פטור:

5

When a person delays payment of a worker's wages until after they are due, he is liable to pay him immediately, although he has already violated the positive and the negative commandment mentioned above. Throughout the time he delays payment, he transgresses a Rabbinic commandment, as alluded to by Proverbs 3:28: "Do not tell your colleague, 'Go and return for tomorrow I will pay.'

ה

המשהה שכר שכיר עד אחר זמנו אע"פ שכבר עבר בעשה ול"ת ה"ז חייב ליתן מיד וכל עת שישהה עובר על לאו של דבריהם שנאמר אל תאמר לרעך לך ושוב:

6

The following rules apply whenever a worker who was hired in the presence of witnesses demands payment from his employer at the appointed time, the owner claims to have paid the wage, and the worker claims not to have received it. Our Sages ordained that, while holding a sacred object, the worker should take an oath that he did not receive his wage. He may then collect it according to the laws governing all those who take oaths and then collect their due.

The rationale for this ruling is that the employer is busy managing his workers and the worker is pinning his soul on his wage. Even if the worker is a minor, the worker may take an oath and collect his wage.

Different rules apply when the employer hired the worker without witnesses observing. Since the employer could say: "Such a thing never happened; I never hired you," we accept his claim when he says: "I hired you, and I paid you." Hence, the employer must take a sh'vuat hesset if he denies owing anything to the worker or a Scriptural oath if he admits a portion of his claim, as applies in all other suits. If there is one witness who testifies that the worker was hired, it is of no consequence.

Similarly, if the worker demands payment after the day on which his wage is due, we follow the principle: "A person who wishes to expropriate money from a colleague must prove his claim." This applies even if there are witnesses that the employer hired him. If he does not prove his claim, the employer may support his claim with a sh'vuat hesset and be freed of liability. If the worker proves that he has been continually demanding payment, he may take an oath and collect his wage on the day on which he demands payment.

What is implied? The worker performed labor for the employer on Monday until the evening. The time he should be paid is Monday night. On Tuesday, he can no longer take an oath and collect his wage. If he brings witnesses who testify that he demanded his wage throughout Monday night, he may take an oath and collect his wage throughout the day on Tuesday, but from Tuesday night onward, we follow the principle: "A person who wishes to expropriate money from a colleague must prove his claim."

Similarly, if he has witnesses who testify that he had demanded his wage until Thursday, he may take an oath and collect his wage throughout the day on Thursday.

ו

כל שכיר ששכרו בעדים ותבעו בזמנו ואמר בעל הבית נתתי לך שכרך והשכיר אומר לא נטלתי כלום תקנו חכמים שישבע השכיר בנקיטת חפץ ויטול כדין כל נשבע ונוטל מפני שבעל הבית טרוד בפועליו וזה השכיר נושא נפשו לזה אפילו היה השכיר קטן השכיר נשבע ונוטל שכרו שלא בעדים מתוך שיכול לומר לא היו דברים מעולם ולא שכרתיך נאמן לומר שכרתיך ונתתי לך שכרך וישבע בעל הבית היסת שנתן או שבועת התורה אם הודה במקצת כשאר הטענות היה לו עד אחד ששכרו אינו מועיל לו כלום וכן אם תבעו אחר זמנו אף על פי ששכרו בעדים המוציא מחבירו עליו הראייה ואם לא הביא ראייה ישבע בעל הבית היסת הביא ראייה שתבעו כל זמנו ה"ז נשבע ונוטל כל אותו היום של תביעה כיצד היה עושה עמו ביום שני עד הערב זמנו כל ליל שלישי וביום השלישי אינו נשבע ונוטל ואם הביא עדים שהיה תובעו כל ליל שלישי ה"ז נשבע ונוטל כל יום שלישי אבל מליל רביעי והלאה המוציא מחבירו עליו הראייה וכן אם הביא עדים שהיה תובעו והולך עד יום ה' ה"ז נשבע ונוטל כל יום ה':

7

The following rules apply when there is a difference between the employer and the worker with regard to the wage promised - e.g., the employer states "I promised you two zuz" and the worker states: "You promised me three."

In this instance, our Sages did not entitle the worker to support his claim with an oath. Instead, they applied the principle: "A person who wishes to expropriate money from a colleague must prove his claim," If the worker did not prove his claim, even though the employer already gave him the two zuz he admits owing him or says: "Here is your money," the employer must take an oath holding a sacred object. This oath was ordained by the Sages so that the worker will not depart with an unsatisfied soul.

When does the above apply? When the employer hired the worker in the presence of witnesses who did not know the wage they agreed on, and also when the worker demanded his wage on time. If, however, the employer hired the worker without this being observed by witnesses or the worker demanded payment after the time for payment passed, the employer is required to take only a sh'vuat hesset that he agreed to pay him no more than he already gave him or no more than he admits to owe him and told him that he was willing to pay, as is true with regard to all other claims.

ז

בעה"ב אומר שתים קצצתי לך והשכיר אומר שלש קצצת לי לא תקנו חכמים שישבע השכיר כאן אלא המוציא מחבירו עליו הראייה ואם לא הביא ראיה אע"פ שכבר נתן לו שתים או שאמר לו הילך הרי בעל הבית נשבע בנקיטת חפץ ודבר זה תקנת חכמים הוא כדי שלא ילך השכיר בפחי נפש במה דברים אמורים בששכרו בעדים ולא ידעו כמה פסק לו ותבעו בזמנו אבל אם שכרו שלא בעדים או שתבעו אחר זמנו ישבע בעה"ב היסת שלא קצץ לו אלא מה שכבר נתן לו או שלא נשאר לו אצלו אלא זה שאמר לו הילך כדין כל הטענות:

8

The following rules apply when a person gives a garment to a tailor to mend, and a difference of opinion arises concerning the payment due the tailor. The tailor says: "You promised me two zuz," and the owner says: "I promised to pay only one."

As long as the garment is in the possession of the tailor, and he would be able to claim that he purchased it, the tailor is given the opportunity of taking an oath while holding a sacred object and collecting the amount he claims. He may claim up to the amount of the article's worth as his wage. Once the garment has departed from his possession, or in a situation when we would not presume that he is the owner and he cannot claim that he purchased the garment, we follow the principle: "A person who wishes to expropriate money from a colleague must prove his claim." If he does not bring proof of his claim, the owner of the garment is required to take a sh'vuat hesset if he denies owing the tailor anything more than he paid him or a Scriptural oath if he admits a portion of the tailor's claim, as is the law with regard to other claims. Such a situation is not governed by the special leniencies granted with regard to the laws applying to a worker.

ח

הנותן טליתו לאומן אומן אומר ב' קצצת לי והלה אומר לא קצצתי אלא אחד כל זמן שהטלית ביד האומן אם יכול לטעון שהיא לקוחה בידו הרי האומן נשבע בנקיטת חפץ ונוטל ויכול לטעון שהיא בשכרו עד כדי דמיה ואם יצאת טלית מתחת ידו או שאין לו בה חזקה ואינו יכול לטעון שהיא לקוחה בידו המוציא מחבירו עליו הראייה ואם לא הביא ראייה ישבע בעל הטלית היסת או שבועת התורה אם הודה במקצת כדין כל הטענות שאין זה כדין השכיר:

9

When a worker comes to take an oath, we do not deal severely with him, nor is he required to take an oath with regard to other claims based on the principle of gilgul sh'vuah. Instead, he takes an oath that he did not receive payment and collects his due.

We are not lenient with any other people who come to take oaths, with the exception of a worker. In his case, we are lenient and invite him to take the oath, saying: "Do not cause yourself exasperation. Take the oath and collect your due."

Even when his wage is only a p'rutah, if the owner claims to have paid him already, he should collect it only after taking an oath. Similarly, whenever a person takes an oath and collects his due, even if the claim is only one p'rutah, he may not collect it unless he takes an oath resembling one required by Scriptural Law.

ט

שכיר הבא להשבע אין מחמירין עליו ואין מגלגלין עליו כלל אלא נשבע שלא נטל ויטול ולכל הנשבעין אין מקילין חוץ מן השכיר שמקילין עליו ופותחין לו תחלה ואומרים לו אל תצער עצמך השבע וטול אפילו היה שכרו פרוטה אחת ובעה"ב אומר נתתיה לא יטול אלא בשבועה וכן כל הנשבע ונוטל אפילו לא יטעון אלא פרוטה אחת לא יטול אותה אלא בשבועה כעין של תורה: