Rambam, Laws of Hiring 9:4
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רמבם, הלכות שכירות ט:ד
השוכר את הפועלים והטעו את בעה"ב או בעה"ב הטעה אותם אין להם זה על זה אלא תרעומת, בד"א ד בשלא הלכו אבל הלכו החמרין ולא מצאו תבואה, פועלים ומצאו שדה כשהיא לחה, או ששכר להשקות השדה ומצאוה שנתמלאה מים, אם ביקר בעה"ב מלאכתו מבערב ומצא שצריכה פועלים אין לפועלים כלום מה בידו לעשות, ואם לא ביקר נותן להם שכרן כפועל בטל שאינו דומה הבא טעון לבא ריקן ועושה מלאכה לבטל, בד"א בשלא התחילו במלאכה אבל אם התחיל הפועל במלאכה וחזר בו אפילו בחצי היום חוזר שנאמר כי לי בני ישראל עבדים ולא עבדים לעבדים.
If an employer hires workers and they mislead the employer, or he misleads them, they have no claim against each other except for taromet [a non-monetary remedy, similar to nominal damages]. In what circumstances? If the work has not yet begun. But if donkey drivers go [to the appointed place] and find no produce, or workers find the field wet [which makes it impossible to harvest a field], or a worker hired to water a field finds it already flooded — if the employer had already visited [the work site] the previous evening and decided the workers were required — the workers have no remedy, since what could the employer have done? But if the employer did not visit, he must pay them “idle wage” (since a person who comes loaded is not the same as a person who comes empty and wastes time). In what circumstances? When the workers have not yet begun to work. But if the worker begins to work and then changes his mind, he may do so, even if he has only worked half the day, as it says: “For it is to me [God] that the Israelites are slaves,” (Leviticus 25:42) – they are slaves to Me, not slaves to other slaves. [Ziegler translation]
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Suggested Discussion Questions:

1. What verbal contract do workers and employers enter into with each other?

2. This text assumes that workers and employers have equal capacity to set the terms of the agreement. If they do not, in fact, have equal capacity to set the terms, what ethics must the employer exercise?

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Time Period: Medieval (Geonim through the 16th Century)