The following is a discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the week.
For final rulings, consult your Rav.
On that day shall you pay his hire; the sun shall not set upon him... (Devarim 24:15)
EIN ADAM L'CHAVEIRO: LO SALIN
QUESTION: Must a baby-sitter be paid immediately upon completion
of the job or can the payment be delayed?
DISCUSSION: In the verse quoted above, the Torah commands that a
laborer who completes his work must be paid "on that day." This
means that a worker who finishes his job during the daytime must
be paid by sunset of that day. If the worker has not been paid
in full by sunset, his employer has transgressed a Biblical
prohibition(1). Similarly, a worker who completes his job during
the night must be paid in full before daybreak. If the worker is
hired for a full day [or night] or for a full week or month, he
must be paid by the morning [or evening] after his term of
employment is over.
These laws apply also to rental fees. When the rental period is
over, payment must be made by the end of that day [or night](2).
There is a dispute among the Rishonim over whether these laws
apply to property rentals as well(3). The Chafetz Chayim(4)
rules that one who is late with his house rent has transgressed
Payment for work contracted by the job is also included in this
commandment. Thus, when an item is taken in for repair or
cleaning, etc., or if a plumber or an electrician comes into
one's home for a specific job, payment must be made "on the day"
that the item is picked up(5) or the job completed(6). However,
when contracting for a job in which the raw materials belong to
the worker [as in the case of a builder], these laws do not
apply. In this case, we view the relationship between them as
one of a buyer and a seller, not as one of an employee and his
An employer cannot force his worker to accept compensation
other than cash(8). Payment, therefore, must be in cash, or with
a check that can be easily and quickly cashed(9).
Payment must be made on time to a minor as well(10). Thus, when
a baby-sitter is hired, she must be paid before the day [or
night] is over.
There are, however, several exceptions to the above rules. Thus:
This prohibition applies only if the worker asks, either himself
or through a messenger(11), to be paid. If the worker does not
mind being paid at a later date, it is permissible to defer
payment(12). If, however, the worker would like to get paid but
is too shy to ask outright, payment must be made on time(13).
If the common practice in a given locality is to pay a laborer's
wages at the end of the month or at a time when accounts are
calculated, then the payment does not have to be made until
It follows, therefore, that if a baby-sitter is hired on a
one-time basis, she must be paid "on that day." This is because
she expects to be paid immediately upon completion of her job.
If, however, the baby-sitter is hired on a steady basis, then
there is no deadline for the time of payment since many people
do not pay their regular baby-sitter after each session(15).
One is allowed to make a pre-condition with his worker that he
will not be paid on time(16). This condition must be made before
the worker agrees to do the job. Thus, even a one-time
baby-sitter may be paid at a later time if she was told of this
condition before she agreed to take the job.
An employer who has no money(17) to pay his employee does not
transgress this prohibition(18). If he has no money but is able
to borrow, he must do so. Not having the exact change on hand is
no excuse to delay payment(19).
1. Depending on the circumstances, there could be up to 6
different commandments that are transgressed when payment is not
made on time; see C.M. 339:2 and Sma 4.
2. C.M. 339:1.
3. Pischei Teshuvah 339:1.
4. Ahavas Chesed 9:5. This is also the ruling of the Ketzos
ha-Choshen 339:1. See Avnei Yashfe 2:118 who quotes Harav S.Y.
Elyashiv as ruling that the prohibition applies only to rent
which is due for past rental, not for rent which is paid ahead
of time (pre-payment).
5. If the item is not being picked up, even though the repairman
notified the owner that it is ready, the owner does not have to
pick up the item and the payment rules do not apply; Beiur
Halachah O.C. 242.
8. Shach C.M. 336:4. See also Pischei Teshuvah C.M. 336:1.
9. Harav M. Feinstein (written responsum published in Mili
de-Nizakin, pg. 122) in a locale where it is customary to pay by
check. See Pischei Choshen (Hilchos Sechirus 9 note 36) who
questions a payment by check if it is made after the bank's
10. Ahavas Chesed 9:5. See Nesiv ha-Chesed 16 who takes to task
those who promise compensation to a minor and then do not pay
him on time.