Question:

Is one allowed to pay a babysitter for babysitting on Shabbos?

Answer:

Paying a babysitter for work done on shabbos is problematic, not for the person paying; but because the worker is not allowed to receive pay for work done on shabbos (called (schar shabbos). One of the heterim to recieve schar shabbos is if the money is pooled together with something else (called havla’ah). For example if a waiter that charges $200 for his services, and he sets some things up or brings the food before shabbos. Then the payment is for the erev shabbos and the shabbos work as a lump sum, then it is permitted. Another instance of havla’ah is if the payment is for some of the food given by the caterer. Then the sale of the food and the service is pooled together.

Technically a babysitter that is paid by the hour will not be considered havla’ah, because she is charging by the hour; however there are a few ways to set it up that it would be permitted.

  1. They can make up a flat fee for all the babysitting, including the shabbos and weekday time, (when this is applicable).
  2. They can make up with the babysitter that she will give some nosh or prize to the kids, and the price will include this.
  3. The money can be given as a “gift”. If the money is given as a gift, it means that the wage cannot be negotiated beforehand, and that the person has no legal claim on it. According to this, if you don’t speak to the babysitter about money before shabbos then what she is given afterwards is considered a present. (This will work only when it is not clearly understood how much she will be given, but if she always does it at this price then it is as if it was spoken out.)
  4. According to some opinions, if some money is added as a present to the hourly pay it would also be considered havla’ah. For example, if a dime will be added as a present for each hour of work done, then each hour that is paid for, was done with havla’ah.

Sources:

O:CH 306-4 M:B ibid 15,18-19, SS”K 28-64&65. Noda B’yehudah 2-26, Megilas Sefer  (Shabbos) 81-8. Be’er Moshe 5-103, Rivivos Efrayim 8- 151(1).

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