Paying Workers on Time
This is the approved revision of this page, as well as being the most recent.
- Paying workers in a timely fashion is a biblical mitzvah.
- If an employer completely refuses to pay a worker his wages, in addition to violating Lo Talin, he also violates Oshek. For example, if a business closes, and the employer decides not to pay the last payroll because of the losses, he is in violation of Oshek.  Regarding bankruptcy of a corporation, a competent halachic authority should be consulted. See Dina D'Malchusa Dina.
- In any case that the prohibition of delaying wages doesn't apply, the positive mitzva of paying on time also doesn't technically apply.
- The prohibition of delaying wages only applies on the first day. Some say that this applies even if one intentionally delayed. Similarly, if one was exempt from paying at the time that the wages were due, for whatever reason, the prohibition of bal talin will not come into play in the future either, even if he intentionally delays.In any event, one should pay immediately and any further delay is a violation of a rabbinic prohibition.
- To avoid this prohibition, it is highly recommended that that before hiring any worker one should make sure to have cash at hand in order to pay his worker on time.
- No distinction is made between wages owed to a penniless worker who depends on his employer or a wealthy worker who is financially independent.
- No distinction is made between small and large amounts of money owed to a worker or the amount of work that it takes.
- Partial payments are subject to the prohibition of delaying payment, meaning payments must be made in full when due. Otherwise one would be in violation of Bal Talin Even if the amount is in dispute and they plan to go to Beit Din, the employer must pay the amount that is agreed upon by both. It would be advisable to settle on a price before the work is done so that it doesn't have to be brought for a din torah.
- After the work is completed, one may not use some pretext to bargain down the amount he owes or squeeze the worker for a reduction, unless the worker agrees wholeheartedly.
- If one forgot to pay the worker and it is difficult for him to go back and pay, he may call the worker and ask if he can pay later. If the worker allows, then he avoids bal talin but still misses out on the positive mitzva of paying on time.
Type of Work/Worker
- This prohibition can apply to different types of workers: a salaried employee, a service provider, or a craftsman.
- The prohibition applies whether the worker is a man, woman or child.
- Bal Talin does not apply to an akum, nor to an apikores or Jewish idolater. However, although the technical mitzva does not apply, if delaying payment will cause a chilul Hashem, it is obvious that it would be forbidden to do so.
- A subcontractor does not typically expect payment from a contractor immediately upon completing his work. Therefore, there is no Bal talin.
- The prohibition can apply to payment for the use of an item.
- In the case of a rental, bal talin would only apply for rent charged at the end of the rental, not rent charged in advance.
Renting a Building Space
- There is a disagreement amongst the poskim regarding the rental of space in a building. Some poskim say that rent due for space in a building is subject to bal talin.
- According to the poskim that using a building is subject to bal talin, the rental fees for using a mikveh would be subject to that prohibition. However, this only applies if the mikveh has a policy of no credit. In many cases though, the people in charge consent to the use paying at a later time when necessary. Accordingly, this would not be subject to bal talin, but one who doesn't pay then would be missing out on the positive mitzva of paying on time.
At What Point Would One be in Violation?
- The obligation to pay an employee who works during the day, commences at the beginning of the night, and the employee must be paid by dawn. Conversely, if the employee works at night, the obligation commences at the beginning of the morning, and the employee must be paid by sunset. However, if the employee who works during the day finishes before the day ends, the employee must be paid by sunset, meaning we always follow when the work was completed, irrespective of when it was begun. 
- Although the technical obligation is to pay by dark, since it is not precisely clear when it first gets dark halakhically, it is best to pay by sunset 
- When the employee earns a salary at the end of agreed upon periods, the employer must pay by that date. Therefore, even if someone is hired for a long-term contract, if the agreement was that he would be paid weekly or bi-weekly, each of those paydays would be subject to bal talin This is true even if the pay day is not the time that the work period is completed, such as if he is paid on a Thursday and the work week ends on Friday.
Payment in Advance
- If one pays in advance of the work being complete, one is not in violation of bal talin. According to some poskim, he would then be losing out on fulfilling the mitzva of paying on time. He can stipulate at the time that he gives the money that he is not technically transferring the money until it is due, in order to get this mitzva of paying on time.
- If someone takes a job on Shabbat, such as a waiter who serves on Shabbat, and he finishes his job during the day, some poskim hold that there is no bal talin, because obviously the person accepted this job knowing he could not be paid on Shabbat. regarding the issue of getting paid for work done on Shabbat see Sechar Shabbat
Form of Payment
- Paying by check would not subject one to any violations, unless the employer stipulates payment by cash and that is the norm in that profession.
- Payment with a post-dated check or credit card is not considered valid to avoid bal talin. If the employee consents to this form of payment, one would not be in violation of bal talin, but would still lose out on the mitzva of paying on time. 
Item Being Repaired is Still with the Craftsman
- If the task has been completed, but the item has not been given to the employer/client, the obligation to pay is not yet in effect until the item is turned over to the employer/client. Once the item is given, the rules of Bal talin are in full effect. For example, if a jeweler informs the customer that his watch is ready to be picked up, but the customer does not go get it or pay for it until after sunset, he has not violated Bal talin because the jeweler was still holding his watch. Once the jeweler returns the watch, he must be paid by sunset
Payment is not Requested
- If the worker has not requested payment, there is no issue of bal talin because this is not considered holding back the wages against the worker's will. However, if the worker stands there waiting to be paid, even if he doesn't explicitly ask for it, that is considered a request for payment. Additionally, if the agreement was to pay by a specific day, the employee does not have to request payment. Some poskim hold that one who withholds payment, even in a case that the employee made no request for the payment, is in violation of a rabbinic prohibition.
Payment is not Expected
- If the employee does not expect the payment at the specified period, the employer is exempt from paying on time. Therefore, if there is a chance that one may not be able to pay on time, the poskim advise that he ask for permission to pay a later time, and if the employee agrees, there will be no violation of bal talin. He should still make every effort to pay on time.
- If the worker consents to wait for his payment, there is no bal talin. Even if the worker is simply too embarrassed to press, and agrees to wait, there is no bal talin. But he must clearly express this consent.
- If a worker takes a job where he knows the employer doesn't pay on time, it is as if he agreed beforehand to accept late payment and there is no issue of bal talin.
- In some areas of service, the accepted practice is that the provider does not expect payment until he sends an invoice. If that is the case, one would not be obligated to pay until the invoice is provided. Once one receives the bill, he should pay within the normal amount of time according to the standards of that profession. Although if he delays he is not technically in violation of Bal talin, it is still rabbinically forbidden to delay the payment. 
- Workers who provide a service on a steady basis, usually do not object if payment is deferred until the next time of service. Therefore, unless he specifically asks to be paid after each session, one may presume that he agrees to work in accordance with the customary practice and there would be no issue of bal talin.
Employer Doesn't Have the Money
- If the employer does not have the money to pay his worker when the payment is due, there is no issue of bal talin. This means that he doesn't have cash, or money available in a bank account. He would not be obligated to sell his assets.
- If one only has a large bill, he must go get change and pay the worker. Not having change is not an excuse not to pay
- If he doesn't have the full amount, but can pay a partial amount, he must do so. If he doesn't use all the money that he has available, he is in violation of bal talin.Even if he is left with a choice of paying this worker or buying food for Shabbat, he must choose paying the worker.
- If he can borrow the money easily and be able to fulfill the mitzva of paying on time, this is advisable.
- If one knows he will not have the money to pay the worker, he is not allowed to hire him in the first place.
Hired by an Intermediary
- If the worker is not hired directly by the employer, there is no violation of bal talin by either the employer or his intermediary. For example, if a secretary orders service from a certain provider, or if an employer hires the workers through the worker's secretary, there would be no bal talin. Because of this exemption, if an employer is not sure that he can pay on time, he should else someone else to hire the worker for him. However, doing so will make him unable to fulfill the positive mitzva of paying his worker on time.
- If an employer provides the funds but puts the hiring and paying in the hands of a manager, that manager must pay on time and if he doesn't would be subject to bal talin. Similarly, if one's wife hires a worker for the house, even though she is technically hiring on behalf of her husband, she is subject to bal talin and must pay the worker on time.
- Some poskim say that if the worker continues to work for the employer with the latter's consent after the first payment, it is considered as if the employer himself confirmed the hire and is once again subject to bal talin. Accordingly, if a worker was hired through an agency, and then continues to work after the first payday, this would be subject to bal talin.
- Corporations are not subject to the prohibitions of delaying payment. Managers are also not subject to this prohibition unless the wage is being withheld for personal purposes.
- Bal Talin does not apply to a sale. If somebody delays paying for an item that he is purchasing, he is not in violation of bal talin.
- For example, if somebody buys a suit from a tailor who provides the fabric and makes custom suits, he is not in violation of bal talin because the charge is for the suit and not for the labor.
- If one has enough money to pay only one of his workers, he should pay the poor worker first. There is a greater responsibility to see that a poor worker gets paid because punishment comes faster if one fails to do so.
- Article on Paying Workers on Time: The Mitzvah of Bal Talin by Rabbi Yirmiyahu Kaganoff
- Businesshalacha.com by Rabbi Leibel Williger
- Paying Workers On Time by Rabbi Michael Taubes
- Sefer Hachinuch Mitzva 588, Shulchan Arukh Choshen Mishpat 339:1. The Sema 339:1 explains that the Talmud (Bava Metzia 111a) derives this from the verse, “At his day you shall give him his hire, nor shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor and sets his heart upon it; lest he cry against you to the Lord, and it should be sin to you” (Devarim 24: 15).
While the Gemara Baba Metzia 111a mentions that there are potentially five biblical prohibitions in delaying pay (Rashi), the Sema notes that the Rambam, Tur, and Shulchan Arukh only list one, as five only apply when one does not plan to pay at all (see 339:2). There is also the verse “the wages of he who is hired shall not remain with you all night until the morning” (Vayikra 19:13). Thus this mitzvah is often known as bal talin. It is important to emphasize that the reason for the mitzvah is integral to the mitzvah itself. A guiding factor in this topic should be that people work to make a living, and withholding that living is unfair and immoral, unless, as we will see, the employer and employee operate on consensual terms. see Ahavat Chessed introduction to Perek 9 who bemoans the fact that many people, who are otherwise very ethical, are lax in their observance of this mitzva, and take liberties they would not take in any other area of halacha
- Sefer Hachinuch Mitzva 258, Shulchan Aruch CM 359:8, Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 40
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 40
- see Bankruptcy in Halacha from the Business Halacha Institute, Bankruptcy: A Halakhic Perspective by Rabbi Yitzchok Breitowitz, and Bankruptcy - A Viable Halachic Option? by Steven H. Resnicoff
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 103 in the name of Rav Elyashiv
- Shulchan Aruch CM 339:8.
- Aruch Hashulchan 339:10
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 103
- Shulchan Aruch CM 339:8 based on Gemara Baba Metzia 110b citing the verse “Say not to your neighbor, Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give, when you have it by you” (Proverbs 3:28), Halachos Of Other People's Money pg. 104
- Sefer Hachinuch Mitzva 588
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 96
- Ahavat Chesed introduction to Perek 9, Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 97. see there pg. 104 where he writes that some poskim rule that it applies to even less than a perutah
- Ahavat Chesed 9:3 based on Baba Metzia 111b, Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 104
- Ahavat Chesed, 9:10, Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 105
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 105
- Weekly Halacha by By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 130 in the name of Rav Pam, as even if you pay one peruta less than you owe him, you would be in violation of bal talin.
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 134
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 104 based on Baba Metzia 112a, Weekly Halacha by By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt
- Ahavat Chesed 9:5, Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 119 and 129, Weekly Halacha by By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 119. see note 86 there regarding the opinion of the Rambam on this issue
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 120.
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 124
- Shulchan Aruch 339:1 based on Mishna Baba Metzia 111a, Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 104 and 126. see also pg. 133 for specific examples
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 126.
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 127. see Shulchan Aruch CM 339:1 who quotes that there are those who say that land cannot be subject to bal talin. Ahavat Chesed 9:6 recommends being strict and assume that bal talin does apply, as does Aruch Hashulchan 339:2.
see Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 127 note 14 who quotes from Rav Avraham Pam that usually rent is paid in advance, and therefore bal talin would not apply. Weekly Halacha by By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt quotes others who say similarly
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 131 in the name of Rav Scheinberg
- Shulchan Arukh 339:3
- Ahavat Chesed 9:2, Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 102. While Shulchan Aruch 339:3 writes that one who works during the day can be paid all night, the Rama there clarifies that this is only if his work continues into the night. This is clear from Shulchan Aruch 339:4 who states that if someone only worked a few hours during the night, he must be paid by dawn.
The Gemara Baba Metzia 111a says he has until the end of the night, and Rashi there (D"H Sechir Shaot) explains that this means until dawn, Amud Hashachar
- Rabbi Ari Marburger, Business Halacha, p. 176). see Ahavat Chesed 9:1 who writes that since status of the time between sunset and tzet hakovachim is unclear, we should be strict and be sure to pay before sunset
- Tashbetz 1:64, Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 120, Business Halacha, p. 176.
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 121 in the name of Rav Elyashiv
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 108. see note 46 there where he quotes from Shu"T Teshuvot Vihanhagot that the Chofetz Chaim would be sure to only pay the carriage driver at the end of the trip because he wanted to fulfill the mitzva of paying on time
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 131-132.
- Business Halacha, p. 186-187. There is a discussion among poskim about whether or not the bank has to be open in order for the prohibition of delaying payment to not be in effect (see Rabbi Moishe Dovid Lebovits, Halachically Speaking, Volume 4, p. 373-374, as well as Pitchei Choshen Hilchos Sechirus 9, note 36.
see also Halachos of Other of Other People's Money pg. 106-107 who distinguishes between Eretz Yisrael where a check can more easily be exchanged for cash and America where it can only be brought to a bank, although he acknowledges that in many circumstances the accepted practice is to pay by check and therefore bal talin wouldn't apply.
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 107-108
- Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 339:6 based on Baba Metzia 112a, Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 124, Weekly Halacha by By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt
- Shulchan Aruch 339:6, Aruch Hashulchan 339:8, Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 124
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 125
- Shulchan Aruch CM 339:10 based on Baba Metzia 112a, Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 111
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 112
- see Ahavat Chessed 9:11, and Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 112
- Shulchan Arukh Choshen Mishpat 339:9-10. For example, if the employer is up front that he/she is unable to pay immediately and the employee consents, the employer does not need to pay at the end of the period.
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 110 based on Shach 339:2
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 112-113. see note 61 there where he proves that this is the case even if the work was already completed and the time to pay has arrived
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 113 in the name of Rav Elyashiv and Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg
- Shulchan Aruch 339:9 based on Baba Metzia 111a, Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 113
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 121 gives the example of a dental office. Pn pg. 133 he adds the examples of accounting or legal fees
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 122 in the name of Rav Elyashiv and Rav Scheinberg. see there where he writes that if one receives a medical bill, he should typically pay within 30 days. If he doesn't pay within that time, he would be in violation of the rabbinic prohibition of delaying. He adds that if they call to remind you, additional delay would certainly be forbidden.
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 122 gives the example of a baby-sitter who comes to babysit on a regular basis
- Shulchan Aruch 339:10 based on Baba Metzia 112a, Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 114, Weekly Halacha by By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 114. see there where he does qualify this statement, that if he has marketable assets that can be sold without a loss, he must do so to pay this worker
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 115, Weekly Halacha by By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt
- Ahavat Chesed 9:10, Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 115
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 115, Biur Halacha OC 242: Lichavod
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 116, Aruch Hashulchan 339:14
- Ahavat Chesed 10:!2, Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 114
- Shulchan Aruch CM 339:7 based on Baba Metzia 110b, Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 116-117. see note 74 there for different explanations as to why this is the case
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 133 in the name of Rav Elyashiv
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 109 based on Baba Metzia 111a
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 118 in the name of the Chida and Rav Elyashiv
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 117
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 117
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 117 in the name of Rav Elyashiv.
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 118
- Business Halacha, p.184.
- Business Halacha, p. 185, based on Mishnas R’ Aharon (Volume 2, Responsa 73:3). Rabbi Marburger notes, though, that a manager is responsible so long as he or she has the ability to pay; the manager need not use personal money if the company funds are not available.
- Gilyon Rabbi Akiva Eiger on Shulchan Aruch 339:6, Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 125
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 126, Weekly Halacha by By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt based on Ketzos ha-Choshen, C.M. 339:3 and Aruch ha-Shulchan, C.M. 339:7
- Ahavat Chesed 10:8, Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 97 based on Gemara Baba Metzia 111b
- Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 97