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Excerpt from the Living Wage Teshuvah

2) Jewish employers are obligated to treat their workers with dignity and respect.  This obligation should include, but should not be limited to, prohibitions against publicly yelling at, mocking, or otherwise embarrassing workers; forbidding employees from speaking their native languages at work; banning all bathroom breaks; changing work hours or adding shifts without advance notice; or making improper sexual comments or advances toward workers. 

3) Jewish employers must pay their workers on time, according to an agreed-upon schedule, and may not pay workers with bad checks.  Employers must pay workers for the full time worked, including mandatory preparation and clean-up hours.  Employers who hire workers through a contractor should make every effort to ensure that these workers are being paid on time.

4) Jewish employers may not knowingly put their employees’ lives at risk by failing to provide appropriate safety equipment and training, or by knowingly forcing workers to work under dangerous conditions.

5) Jewish employers should strive to pay workers a “living wage”… When deciding among the options available, employers should not select a wage level that, while technically considered a living wage (according to a local ordinance, for example), is so low that employers know that workers will certainly need to take on additional jobs, and/or to endanger their health by working an excessive number of hours.

6) In most cases, unions offer the most effective means of collective bargaining and of ensuring that workers are treated with dignity and paid sufficiently. Jewish employers should allow their employees to make their own independent decisions about whether to unionize, and may not interfere in any way with organizing drives by firing or otherwise punishing involved workers, by refusing workers the option for "card check" elections, or by otherwise threatening workers who wish to unionize. When hiring low-wage workers or engaging contractors who supply low-wage workers, Jewish employers should strive to hire unionized workers when possible.

7) The principle of dina d'malkhuta dina obligates Jewish employers to comply with federal labor laws, even when these laws are inconsistently enforced.

8) Jewish employees are obligated to work at full capacity during their work hours, and not to "steal time" from their employers. Jewish union leaders should similarly strive to ensure that workers uphold the halakhic obligations of employees to employers. The ideal worker-employer relationship should be one of trusted partnership, in which each party looks out for the well-being of the other, and in which the two parties consider themselves to be working together for the perfection of the divine world.

Details
Jill Jacobs. Work, Workers and the Jewish owner. Retrieved February 1, 2012 from http://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/sites/default/files/public/halakhah/te....
Full text is now available online on the Rabbinical Assembly Website
Description
A teshuvah (legal position) about paying workers a living wage by Rabbi Jill Jacobs, passed by the Conservative Movement's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards on May 28, 2008. Teshuvot (legal positions) are interpretations of laws based on traditional Jewish texts.
Author(s)
Jacobs, Jill

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Excerpt from the Living Wage Teshuvah." (Viewed on August 27, 2014) <http://jwa.org/media/excerpt-from-living-wage-teshuvah>.

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