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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 14, 2009 / 22 Tamuz 5769

Bill the biller?

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir





http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q. I bill my clients by the hour. Do I have to sit with a stopwatch to deduct the time I spend on a brief phone call to another client, a cup of coffee, or a trip to the bathroom?


A. Surprisingly, this is one of the most common questions I receive. Many years ago I wrote a column on this topic in which I insisted on deducting all idle time; since then I have adopted a more nuanced view. My answer always is that this is not an issue between you and the rabbi, or you and the ethicist; it is an issue between you and your client. The best policy is the one mutually agreed upon between the parties.


However, after dealing with this question so many times, I would like to present some important considerations in making such a policy.


There is no perfect method of billing, and every one has advantages and disadvantages. Paying by the hour fails to reward efficiency, whereas paying by results can result in payment which is grossly unfair in individual cases where the work takes much longer or shorter than expected.


Even within the methodology of paying by the hour, there are advantages and disadvantages to counting seconds. On the one hand, the client can ask himself, do I really have to pay for my consultant to drink a cup of coffee? Probably not. On the other hand, he can ask himself, do I want to pay for time when my consultant is tired and thirsty? Do I want to pay for time my consultant is spending on the phone with another client? Probably not. But on the other hand, do I want him to charge me for a thirty-second phone call when he is in the middle of working for someone else?


And do I want him to work with a stopwatch in hand, concentrating on how much time he spends rather than how well-spent that time is?


Even though there are no hard and fast rules, there are certain guidelines. The best policy is to avoid conflicts as much as possible. Try to devote specific blocks of time to specific projects, and to avoid distractions during that time. If you get a phone call during time devoted to one client, try to reschedule it later in the day. To the extent practical, schedule coffee and bathroom breaks between these blocs.


If you work on a computer, you can benefit from a number of good programs that track your time. These programs can help you not only with billing, but also with assessing and improving your productivity.


Ultimately, you have to create a system you feel is fair and be open with your client. If you are the kind of person who is driven to distraction by a stopwatch, and you feel that client phone calls tend to balance out in the end, you can tell your clients that you will not stop the clock when another client calls briefly during your time — but you will also not charge them for a brief phone call on someone else's time.


The ideal of total devotion to the client is exemplified in a remarkable story in the Talmud about Abba Chilkia: (1)


When the world needed rain, the rabbis would send to him and he would seek mercy, and the rains would come. One time the world needed rain, and the rabbis sent a pair of rabbis to him so that he could seek mercy and bring rain. They went to his house but did not find him; they went to the field and found him hoeing. They greeted him but he didn't [even] turn to them.


The Talmud then tells that when he arrived home, he went up to the roof with his wife where both prayed secretly, so that no one would know that it was his prayers that brought the rain; then the rain began to fall. So Abba Chilkia is held up as the ideal of an individual who is outstandingly scrupulous in his business obligations and is specially beloved by G-d.


Yet the level of devotion displayed by Abba Chilkia is nowhere recorded as binding law, and in fact it is not forbidden to greet someone while you are at work, unless there is a specific workplace rule forbidding it.


The best idea is to give careful thought to the billing policy which will be the most fair to yourself and your clients, and to be totally open about what the policy is and why it is in everyone's interest. Once the policy is in place, you should give your clients the benefit of the doubt.


SOURCE: Babylonian Talmud, Taanis 23a-b

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JWR contributor Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, formerly of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration, is Research Director of the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem, Jerusalem College of Technology. To comment or pose a question, please click here.

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