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Shabbat Parashat Noach 5779

P'ninat Mishpat: Pay for the End of the Employment Period Part I

(based on ruling 76090 of the Eretz Hemdah-Gazit Rabbinical Courts)

Case: The defendant (=def) is a company that advises those seeking home mortgages; def employed the plaintiff (=pl) for several months as spelled out in a written contract. Hourly pay was minimum rate but there were bonuses per case handled. Def provided its workers with extensive training about real estate, which, def reasons, justifies their clause restricting employees from working elsewhere in the field for three years subsequent to employment at def. Shortly after pl started working, def stopped paying salaries on time, with the claim of extreme illiquidity. They met with all the workers and tried to arrange an installment pay plan. This did not sit well with pl, who shortly thereafter sought alternative employment. Pl is suing for his last two months of salary (April-5795 and May-5457 shekels), for overtime and bonuses not received, and for withholding of pay up to the time of the beit din ruling (34,151 shekels). Def responds that they do not give overtime because they grant breaks during the workday very liberally. The bonuses not given relate to cases which pl did not see the matter through until receipt of mortgage. Def are countersuing for pl’s refusal to follow def’s instructions on helping the client, which they claim caused the loss of several clients. They also claim that pl gave a false report of hours for the last month. They also demand a return of the cost to def of the courses pl took, especially since pl is working elsewhere within the field (pl denies this).


Ruling: Back pay- It is agreed that pl worked fully in April and deserves full salary (pending discussion on damages for improper work). Regarding May, def agrees that the pay is correct according to the hours detailed by pl. Since the contract describes the process as the worker being believed regarding hours reported and since def did not prove otherwise, despite their suspicions, pl should be paid in full for May.

Overtime- Israeli law requires payment of overtime. Since the worker is receiving only minimum wage, it cannot be claimed that he receives extra to compensate for overtime that is not given. The claim that def is liberal with breaks does not eliminate the need to pay at all for significant amounts of overtime, which included in some cases, 14 hour days. Therefore, def owes pl 234 shekels for overtime.

Bonuses – The contract states that the worker is paid 25% of the money paid by the client to def and 35% if he brought the client to def. While the amount of work he needs to do to earn the bonus is not stated, logic is that it applies to doing all of the work needed for the client or at least the major part of the work. Based on the internal communications between the sides, it is clear that regarding the bonuses in question, pl did not reach that level of achievement, and therefore there are not grounds for bonus payment.

We continue next time with other issues.

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