Priorities in Paying Wages

The Chafetz Chaim writes that if you hire two workers and you only have enough money to pay one, you must pay the more impoverished worker first. This is hinted at in the Torah, which mentions the word ani (a poor person) in connection with the commandment of paying a worker on time.

If both workers are equally poor and one of them is a relative, the relative does not take precedence. If you don’t have enough money to pay both of them, you must split the money you do have between them. Then when you have the rest of the money, you can make it up to them.

If you hired a worker the day before and could not pay him on time and then you hired a second worker the next day and you now have a chance to pay him on time, which worker takes precedence? Jewish law dictates that one should pay the second one first to in order to avoid violating bal talin again.


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