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Contractual obligations


Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Kislev 29, 5773
I am employed by way of a contract with a company owned and run by a "Frum Ehreliche and Chassidic" Jew. The employment contract specifies clearly that the monthly wage has to be paid by the 10th of the next month, and that any commission earned has to be paid immediately upon receipt by the company of the fee the commission id due on. I have been paid late for the last three months - last month 1 month late on the wage part of my income. On the commission part of my income even though the owner has been paid the fees out of which my commission is due to me I am still not in receipt of most of these - some already three months late. I know my employer has financial issues/problems - unrelated to the business - but related to his personal family issues I have two questions 1/ The basic Hallachik issue with not being paid on time 2/ In our employment contract it says that if we part ways I am not entitled to remain in the same field of business for a period of twelve months after the cessation of my employment. So I am in a position where I am not being paid - a clear and undisputed breach of contract - but should I decide to leave due to the financial burden of not being paid I will be unable to stay in the field I am currently in - a lose lose situation.
Happy Chanuka The basic halachic issue of not being paid on time is explicit in the Torah (Devarim 24: 14-15) that a person who is a wage earner must be paid at the set time. The Torah prohibition is codified in the Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 339) . The Shulchan Aruch states clearly that if one's wages are withheld it is as if "the employer is taking his life away". Furthermore there is a transgression of five negative commandments and one positive commandment of the Torah. The Chafetz Chaim in his introduction to the laws of paying wage earners (Ahavat Chessed Chapter 9) speaks of "Frum Ehreliche" Jews as you do who to our dismay are unaware of the extreme importance of this mitzvah. Even if your employer has only part of the money he must pay you and if he didn't have the money or he spent to on other things he was unjust to hire you to begin with . (Ahavat Chessed Chapter 9: 9-10) What should be done now is go to your local Rabbi and have your employer come in for a "din Torah" so that arrangements are made that you are paid. Your local Rav will know how to pursue things from there and he will be able to tell you how to proceed in regard to your second question as well.
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