There are many instances in Jewish tradition where one performs an extra act, not required by law, which serves to cultivate an awareness of a specific value. For instance, when one performs certain acts of heating on Shabbat, one technically does not violate the prohibition against cooking. However, since that act might be experienced as an act of cooking, the Halacha requires the act be performed with some modification. This modification functions as a reminder, or heker, that there is a value in refraining from cooking on Shabbat. Overtime pay can viewed similarly: as a heker that there is a value and expectation of free time. Thus, refusing to pay overtime violates two moral principles: it is stealing one’s right to free time that society has evaluated as being worth fifty percent of normal wages; and it is destroying both the employer’s and employee’s awareness that workers are entitled to free time.
Suggested Discussion Questions:
1. What is a heker? What function does it serve?
2. How does overtime pay serve as a heker? What function does it serve?
3. What does failing to pay overtime signify in our society? Why is this such an egregious act?
Time Period: Contemporary (The Yom Kippur War until the present-day)