Q: We have a number of temps that were hired for us by an outside employment agency. Do the laws of prompt payment apply to them also?
A: The Gemara (B.M. 110a-b) teaches that if someone hires an employee to work for another person, neither party violates the prohibition of “bal talin” if payment is delayed. The business owner does not violate, because he did not hire the worker, and the one who hired does not violate, because he is not withholding the wages. This is true even if the first person who hired the employee was an agent of the owner. However, there is a rabbinic obligation on the owner to pay as soon as possible, based on the verse, “al tomar l’reiacha.” (Choshen Mishpat 339:7)
If the agent who hired is also responsible for paying the worker, though, he would violate bal talin. Thus, if the temp is hired and paid through a human resources company, they would be in violation, since they are also withholding his pay. (ibid.) Similarly, if a business has a senior executive officer who has full authority for hiring and paying, he would be in violation. (Ahavas Chesed 10:4)
Based on the aforementioned halacha, some say that if a business has a personnel department that hires and a payroll department that is responsible for payment, the business would not violate “bal talin” by delaying payment, only “al tomar.” [However, Rav Y.S. Eliashiv shlita is quoted that even if the offer is made by an employment agency, when the employee continues working past the first paycheck, bal talin applies. “Halachos of Other People’s Money,” by Rabbi Pinchas Bodner, p. 118]
Authored by Rabbi Meir Orlian
These articles are for learning purposes only and cannot be used for final halachic decision. The Business Halacha email is a project of Business Halacha Institute (www.businesshalacha.com) and is under the auspices of Rav Chaim Kohn.