Negative Commandment #38
Sefer Ha’mitzvos Ha’Katzar (The concise book of mitzvos)
By the Chofetz Chaim
This book lists the Torah mitzvos that can be observed today
Second Section – the Negative Commandments
38. It is a negative commandment "Do not delay the payment of a worker."
As it states in Vayikra (Leviticus) 19:13, "do not delay the payment of a worker until the morning." It also states in Devarim (Deuteronomy) 24:15, "do not let the sun set on it." If the worker works during the day, the time to collect payment is all night. This is the reason for the statement "until the morning." If the worker works during the night, the time to collect payment is all day. This is the reason for the statement "do not let the sun set on it." If a person works certain hours during the day, he is to be paid anytime during that day. If a person works certain hours during the night, he is to be paid anytime during that night.
As long as the vessel being worked on remains in the ownership of the worker, even if the worker told the owner that it is completed, the owner has not transgressed this commandment. If the payment is not demanded, the owner does not transgress this commandment. If the worker demands payment and the owner does not have anything to give him at that time, the owner is free of guilt. If the owner sends the worker to someone else and the worker receives payment from the other, the owner is free of guilt.
If the owner holds back payment during the time period when it is due, he has transgressed a positive commandment found in Devarim 24:15, "on that day, he shall pay him," and also transgresses this negative commandment. After the time period it is due, if the owner delays longer, he also transgresses a Scriptural law found in Mishlei (Proverbs) 3:28, "do not say to your friend, go and come again." Regarding the hiring of a man, an animal, or tools, the laws of 'on that day, he shall pay him', 'do not let the sun set on it', and 'do not delay' apply. If a person withholds funds from a worker, it is like he has taken his life and he transgresses all of the above mentioned negative commandments. He also transgresses the law in Vayikra 19:13, "do not withhold and do not steal."
This applies in all places and at all times, for men and for women.