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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

Paid volunteer employee?

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir





http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q. In order to see if there is a good fit between my workplace and prospective workers, I offer to have them work a few days without pay. If the fit is good, I hire them. One worker who didn't stay on is demanding pay, which I never offered. Do I have to pay him?

A. Paying workers fully and promptly is a high priority in Jewish tradition. A number of Torah verses warn us about this. Here is a verse from the book of Leviticus (19:13, all translations from Living Torah):

    Do not [unjustly] withhold that which is due your neighbor. Do not let a worker's wages remain with you overnight until morning.

Here is a passage from the book of Deuteronomy (24:14-15):

    Do not withhold the wages due to your poor or destitute hired hand, whether he is one of your brethren or a proselyte living in a settlement in your land. You must give him his wage on the day it is due, and not let the sun set with him waiting for it. Since he is a poor man, and his life depends on it, do not let him call out to G0d, causing you to have a sin.

But of course these passages cannot tell us when in fact the worker is due his wages in the first place. In Jewish law, there are three distinct ways a worker's just recompense can be calculated.

The easiest case is where there is an explicit wage bargain. The employer and worker agree exactly on the demands of the job and the wage. This case is the most widespread case and the least likely to involve disputes or misunderstandings.

A closely related case is where there was no wage bargain but where there is a well-known and widespread custom. In this case, the mishna tells us, "Everything is according to the local custom". (1) The court will rule exactly as if there was an explicit contract stipulating the working conditions and pay that are customary.

In the above cases, payment is due because of the agreement or contract between the sides. In the first case the agreement is comprehensive; in the second case it is rather thin, consisting only of the agreement to hire and the agreement to work.

But there can also be an obligation to pay which doesn't stem from agreement at all. The benefit provided by the worker's actions can itself obligate payment.

    One who enters his neighbor's field and plants without permission: Rav said, an assessment is made and he has the lower hand [between normal planter's wages and the increase in the assessed the value of the field]. Shmuel said, we assess how much a person would normally pay to plant such a field. Rav Pappa said: There is no disagreement. This [ruling – where the wages must in any case be paid] refers to a field which is designated for planting; this [ruling – where the worker has the lower hand] refers to a field which is not designated for planting. (2)

Even when there is no agreement at all, when there is a benefit provided the beneficiary is required to pay some reasonable approximation of the value of the benefit. (In the common law system, this corresponds roughly to the doctrine of "unjust enrichment".)

Even if you never offered to pay your workers, they would have a justified expectation of getting paid the going wage for the kind of work that they are doing. Given that the benefit provided is itself a source of obligation, even a simple disclaimer ("I'm not offering any payment") would probably not be enough. That would be enough to negate any wage agreement, but not to negate any benefit. Obviously any benefit can be waived, but a rather detailed waiver would be called for in this case.

Furthermore, in the light of the underlying law it would seem that the arrangement you describe is not fair. Your criterion for payment is totally subjective – whether you want to keep the person on; it is not directly dependent on whether the person does a good job or not.

This column is not a source of information on secular law, but to the best of my knowledge the secular law would require payment in such a situation.


SOURCES: Babylonian Talmud, Bava Metzia 83a (2) Babylonian Talmud, Bava Metzia 101a

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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.

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