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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 7, 2005 / 5 Mar-Cheshvan, 5766

Overtime for lost time

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir


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Can an employer demand overtime when vacation days disrupt routine?


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q. I gave my boss months of advance notice of my need to take vacation days during the fall holidays (Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkos, Simchas Torah), but she is still upset at the disruption and is demanding that I work overtime to make up some of the lost time. Is this a fair demand?


A. This question is relevant for employees who wonder if they are being put upon, as well as for employers who want to adopt a fair policy to workers whose off-day needs are off the beaten track, for religious or personal reasons.


The obvious answer is that both sides need to display flexibility. The employer should try and see if the employee's needs can be accommodated with a little bit of good will, while the employee needs to display understanding towards the needs of the workplace. Let's see what lessons Jewish tradition bears for the exact boundaries of this mutual accommodation.


What is considered "duress" on the part of the worker? The Shulchan Aruch (The Code of Jewish Law) rules that a worker is not allowed to take off from work when leaving would cause a loss to the employer. But an exception is made in the case of duress; the examples given are when the worker or a close family member become ill, or when they are confronted with mourning. (1)


But the employer also has to show flexibility. Any absence can cause a loss if the employer doesn't take steps to prevent it, but the employer has a case against the worker only if he was unable to rectify the problem in some other way, for example by hiring substitute workers.


Likewise, the loss has to be genuine. Employers have a legitimate interest in having worker attendance be regular, but they can't create sanctions for an excused absence when the only "loss" is loss of routine. We can learn this from the Torah prohibition against employing an indentured servant in "crushing" labor (Leviticus 25:43). Rashi's commentary explains that "crushing" labor doesn't mean difficult tasks which crush the body, but rather unnecessary tasks which highlight the employer's dominance and thus crush the spirit. (2)


Requiring adequate "face time" (time spent in the workplace together with co-workers) is not in itself an arbitrary demand; it is necessary for teamwork and for generating a good workplace routine. But when the worker's need for flexibility is due to true duress, such as religious obligations, physical disability, etc. then the employer is acting unfairly by failing to make reasonable accommodations.


Sometimes worker absence, even if it is unavoidable, creates a genuine and unavoidable hardship for the employer. In these cases the worker should show understanding for employer demands to make up the shortfall, for example by putting in extra hours. But employers need to ask themselves if the hardships are genuine and unavoidable; if the only loss is a break in routine, or if a little forethought could keep things running smoothly, employers should accommodate the occasional "exceptional" absence without making punitive demands.


SOURCES: (1) Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 333:5. (2) See also Maimonides Code, Avadim 1:6.


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JWR contributor Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, formerly of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration, is Research Director of the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem, Jerusalem College of Technology. To comment or pose a question, please click here.


Previously:

Is it unethical to play suppliers against each other to get the lowest bid possible?
Do family members have precedence in charity allotments?
What the world of business can teach us about our annual process of repentance and renewal
Are religious leaders subject to criticism?
Vindictive Vendor: How can I punish an abusive competitor?
Blogging Ethics: Is the blogger responsible for defamatory posts?







© 2005, The Jewish Ethicist is produced by the JCT Center for Business Ethics